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Author of " The Four Million" " The Voice of the
City" " The Trimmed Lamp" " Strictly
Business" " Sixes and Sevens" Etc,
Garden City New York
DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
C L I E 6 E
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. INCLUDING THAT OF TRANSLATION
WTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES, INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN
COPYRIGHT, 19 10, BY DOUBLEDAY, PAGE * COMPANY
The World and the Door
The Theory and the Hound .
The Hypotheses of Failure .
A Matter of Mean Elevation
Sociology in Serge and Straw
The Ransom of Red Chief
The Marry Month of May .
A Technical Error .
Suite Homes and Their Romance
The Whirligig of Life .
A Sacrifice Hit
The Roads We Take
A Blackjack Bargainer
The Song and the Sergeant .
XVII. One Dollar's Worth
XVIII. A Newspaper Story
XIX. Tommy's Burglar .
XX. A Chaparral Christmas Gift
XXI. A Little Local Colour
XXII. Georgia's Ruling .
XXIII. Blind Man's Holiday . %
XXIV. Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches
THE WORLD AND THE DOOR
A FAVOURITE dodge to get your story read by the
public is to assert that it is true, and then add that Truth
is stranger than Fiction. I do not know if the yarn I
am anxious for you to read is true; but the Spanish
' purser of the fruit steamer El Carrero swore to me by
the shrine of Santa Guadalupe that he had the «f acts from
the U. S. vice-consul at La Paz — a person who could
not possibly have been cognizant of half of them.
As for the adage quoted above, I take pleasure in punc-
turing it by affirming that I read in a purely fictional
story the other day the line: "'Be it so/ said the police-
man." Nothing so strange has yet cropped out in Truth.
When H. Ferguson Hedges, millionaire promoter, in-
vestor and man-about-New-York, turned his thoughts
upon matters convivial, and word of it went "down the
line," bouncers took a precautionary turn at the Indian
clubs, waiters put ironstone china on his favourite tables,
cab drivers crowded close to the curbstone in front of
all-night cafes, and careful cashiers in his regular haunts
charged up a few bcttles to his account by way of preface
As a money power a one-millionaire is of small account
in a city where the man who cuts your slice of beef behind
the free-lunch counter rides to work in his own automobile.
But Hedges spent his money as lavishly, loudly and
showily as though he were only a clerk squandering a
week's wages. And, after all, the bartender takes no
interest in your reserve fund. He would rather look you
up on his cash register than in Bradstreet. -
On the evening that the material allegation of facts
begins, Hedges was bidding dull care begone on the com-
pany of five or six good fellows — acquaintances and
friends who had gathered in his wake.
Among them were two younger men — Ralph Merriam,
a broker, and Wade, his friend.
Two deep-sea cabmen were chartered. At Columbus
Circle they hove to long enough to revile the statue of the
great navigator, unpatriotically rebuking him for having
voyaged in search of land instead of liquids. Midnight
overtook the party marooned in the rear of a cheap cafe
Hedges * was arrogant, overriding and quarrelsome.
He was burly and tough, iron-gray but vigorous, "good"
for the rest of the night. There was a dispute — about
nothing that matters — and the five-fingered words were
passed — the words that represent the glove cast into
the lists. Merriam played the r61e of the verbal
Hedges rose quickly, seized his chair, swung it once
and smashed wildly down at Merriam's head. Merriam
The World and the Door 5
dodged, drew a small revolver and shot Hedges in the
chest. The leading roysterer stumbled, fell in a wry
heap, and lay still.
Wade, a commuter, had formed that habit of prompt-
ness. He juggled Merriam out a side door, walked him to
the corner, ran him a block and caught a hansom. They
rode five minutes and then got out on a dark corner and
dismissed the cab. Across the street the lights of a small
saloon betrayed its hectic hospitality.
"Go in the back room of that saloon," said Wade,
" and wait. I'll go find out what's doing and let you know.
You may take two drinks while I am gone — no more."
At ten minutes to one o'clock Wade returned.
"Brace up, old chap," he said. "The ambulance got
there just as I did. The doctor says he's dead. You
may have one more drink. You let me run this thing
for you. You've got to skip. I don't believe a chair is
legally a deadly weapon. You've got to make tracks.
' that's all there is to it."
Merriam complained of the cold querulously, and
asked for another drink. "Did you notice what big
veins he had on the back of his hands?" he said. "I
never could stand — I never could "
"Take one more," said Wade, "and then come on.
I'll see you through."
Wade kept his promise so well that at eleven o'clock
the next morning Merriam, with a new suit case full of
new clothes and hair-brushes, stepped quietly on board
a little 500-ton fruit steamer at an East River pier. The
vessel had brought the season's first cargo of limes from
Port Limon, and was homeward bound. Merriam had his
bank balance of $2,800 in his pocket in large bills, and
brief instructions to pile up as much water as he could
between himself and New York. There was no time for
From Port Limon Merriam worked down the coast
by schooner and sloop to Colon, thence across the isthmus
to Panama, where he caught a tramp bound for Callao
and such intermediate ports as might tempt the discursive
skipper from bis course.
It was at La Paz that Merriam decided to land — La
Paz the Beautiful, a little harbourless town smothered
in a living green ribbon that banded the foot of a cloud-
piercing mountain. Here the little steamer stopped
to tread water while the captain's dory took him
ashore that he might feel the pulse of the cocoanut
market. Merriam went too, with his suit case, and
Kalb, the vice-consul, a Graeco-Armenian citizen of
the United States, born in Hessen-Darmstadt, and edu-
cated in Cincinnati ward primaries, c isidered all Ameri-
cans his brothers and bankers. He attached himself
to Merriam's elbow, introduced him to every one in La
Paz who wore shoes, borrowed ten dollars and went
back to his hammock.
There was a littit wooden hotel in the edge of a banana
grove, facing the sea, that catered to the tastes of the
few foreigners that had dropped out of the world into thf
The World and the Door t
Iriste Peruvian town. At Kalb's introductory: "Shake
hands with ," he had obediently exchanged manual
salutations with a German doctor, one French and two
Italian merchants, and three or four Americans who
were spoken of as gold men, rubber men, mahogany men
- — anything but men of living tissue.
After dinner Merriam sat in a corner of the broad front
galeria with Bibb, a Vermonter interested in hydraulic
mining, and smoked and drank Scotch "smoke." The
moonlit sea, spreading infinitely before him, seemed to
separate him beyond all apprehension from his old life.
The horrid tragedy in which he had played such a disas-
trous part now began, for the first time since he stole on
board the fruiter, a wretched fugitive, to lose its sharper
outlines. Distance lent assuagement to his view. Bibb
had opened the flood-gates xrf a stream of long-dammed
discourse, overjoyed to have captured an audience that
bad not suffered under a hundred repetitions of his views
"One y^BT more," said Bibb, "and I'll go back to
God's country. Oh, I know it's pretty here, and you
get dolce far niente handed to you in chunks, but this
country wasn't made for a white man to live in. You've
got to have to plug through snow now and then, and see
a game of baseball and wear a stiff collar and have a
policeman cuss you. Still, La Paz is a good sort of a
pipe-dreamy old hole. And Mrs. Conant is here. When
any of us feels particularly like jumping into the sea we
rush around to her house and propose. It's nicer to be
rejected by Mrs. Conant than it is to be drowned. And
they say drowning is a delightful sensation."
"Many like her here?" asked Merriam.
"Not anywhere," said Bibb, with a comfortable sigh.
" She's the only, white woman in La Paz. The rest
range from a dappled dun to the colour of a b-flat piano
key. She's been here a year. Comes from — well, you
know how a woman can talk — ask 'em to say 'string*
and they'll say 'crow's foot' or 'cat's cradle.' Some-
times you'd think she was from Oshkosh, and again from
Jacksonville, Florida, and the next day from Cape Cod."
"Mystery?" ventured Merriam.
"M — well, she looks it; but her talk's translucent
enough. But that's a woman. I suppose if the Sphinx
were to begin talking she'd merely say: 'Goodness me!
more visitors coming for dinner, and nothing to eat but the
sand which is here.' But you won't think about that when
you meet her, Merriam. You'll propose to her too."
To make a hard story soft, Merriam did meet her and
propose to her. He found her to be a woman in black
with hair the colour of a bronze turkey's wings, and
mysterious, remembering eyes that — well, that looked as
if she might have been a trained nurse looking on when
Eve was created. Her words and manner, though, were
translucent, as Bibb had said. She spoke, vaguely, of
friends in California and some of the lower parishes in
Louisiana. The tropical climate and indolent life suited
her; she had thought of buying an orange grove later on;
La Paz, all in all, charmed her.
The World and the Door y
Merriam's courtship of the Sphinx lasted three months
althoagh he did not know that he was courting her. He
was using her as an antidote for remorse, until he found,
too late, that he had acquired the habit. During that time
he had received no news from home. Wade did not know
where he was; and he was not sure of Wade's exact
address, and was afraid to write. He thought he had
better let matters rest as they were for a while.
One afternoon he and Mrs. Conant hired two ponies
and rode out along the mountain trail as far as the little
cold river that came tumbling down the foothills. There
they stopped for a drink, and Merriam spoke his piece —
he proposed, as Bibb had prophesied.
Mrs. Conant gave him one glance of brilliant tenderness,
and then her face took on such a strange, haggard look
that Merriam was shaken out of his intoxication and
back to his senses.
"I beg your pardon, Florence," he said, releasing hei
hand; "but I'll have to hedge on part of what I said. I
can't ask you to marry me, of course. I killed a man
in New York — a man who was mv friend — shot him
down — in quite a cowardly manner, I understand. Of
course, the drinking didn't excuse it. Well, I couldn't
resist having my say; and I'll always mean it. I'm here
as a fugitive from justice, and — I suppose that ends
Mrs. Conant plucked little leaves assiduously from the
low-hanging branch of a lime tree.
f '\ suppose so," she said, in low and oddly unever
tones; "but that depends upon you. I'll be as honest a
you were. I poisoned my husband. 1 am a self-made
widow. A man cannot love a murderess. So I suppose
that ends our acquaintance.'*
She looked up at him slowly. His face turned a little
pale, and he stared at her blankly, like a deaf-and-dumb
man who was wondering what it was all about.
She took a swift step toward him, with stiffened arms
and eyes blazing.
"Don't look at me like that!" she cried, as though she
were in acute pain. "Curse me, or turn your back
on me, but don't look that way. Am I a woman to be
beaten ? If I could show you — here on my arms, and
on my back are scars — and it has been more than a yeai
— scars that he made in his brutal rages. A holy nun
would have risen and struck the fiend down. Yes, I
killed him. The foul and horrible words that he hurled
at me that last day are repeated in my ears every night
when I sleep. And then came his blows, and the end of
my endurance. I got the poison that afternoon. It
was his custom to drink every night in the library before
going to bed a hot punch made of rum and wine. Only
from my fair hands would he receive it — because he knew
the fumes of spirits always sickened me. That night
when the maid brought it to me I sent her downstairs
on an errand. Before taking him his drink I went io my
little private cabinet and poured into it more than a tea-
spoonful of tincture of aconite — enough to kill three
men, so I had learned. I had drawn $6,000 that I hat)
The World and the Door 11
in bank, and with that and a few things in a satchel
I left the house without any one seeing me. As I passed
the library I heard him stagger up and fall heavily on a
eouch. I took a night train for New Orleans, and from
there I sailed to the Bermudas. I finally cast anchor
in La Paz. And now what have you to say? Can you
open your mouth?"
Merriam came back to life.
"Florence," he said earnestly, "I want you. I don't
care what you've done. If the world "
"Ralph," she interrupted, almost with a scream, "be
Her eyes melted; she relaxed magnificently and swayed
toward Merriam so suddenly that he had to jump to
Dear me! in such scenes how the talk runs into artificial
prose. But it can't be helped. It's the subconscious
smell of the footlights' smoke that's in all of us. Stir
the depths of your cook's soul sufficiently and she will
discourse in Bulwer-Lyttonese.
Merriam and Mrs. Conant were very happy. He
announced their engagement at the Hotel Orilla del Mar.
Eight foreigners and four native Astors pounded his back
and shouted insincere congratulations at him. Pedrito,
the Castilian-mannered barkeep, was goaded to extra
duty until his agility would have turned a Boston cherry-
phosphate clerk a pale lilac with envy.
They were both very happy. According to the strange
mathematics of the god of mutual affinity, the shadows
that clouded their pasts when united became only half
as dense instead of darker. They shut the world out
and bolted the doors. Each was the other's world. Mrs.
Conant lived again. The remembering look left her eyes.
Merriam was with her every moment that was possible.
On a little plateau under a grove of palms and calabash
trees they were going to build a fairy bungalow. They
were to be married in two months. Many hours of the
day they had their heads together over the house plans.
Their joint capital would set up a business in fruit or
woods that would yield a comfortable support. "Good
night, my world," would say Mrs. Conant every evening
when Merriam left her for his hotel. They were very
happy. Their love had, circumstantially, that element
of melancholy in it that it seems to require to attain
its supremest elevation. And it seemed that their mutual
great misfortune or sin was a bond that nothing could
One day a steamer hove in the offing. Bare-legged and
bare-shouldered La Pa^ scampered down to the beacb,
for the arrival of a steamer was their loop -the -loop,
circus, Emancipation Day and four-o'clock tea.
When the steamer was near enough, wise ones pro-
claimed that she was the Pajaro, bound up-coast from
Callao to Panama.
The Pajaro put on brakes a mile off shore. Soon a
boat came bobbing shoreward. Merriam strolled down
on the beach to look on. In the shallow water the Carib
sailors sprang out and dragged the boat with a mighty
The World and the Door 13
rush to the firm shingle. Out climbed the purser, the
captain and two passengers, ploughing their way through
the deep sand toward the hotel. Merriam glanced toward
them with the mild interest due to strangers. There "vas
something familiar to him in the walk of one of the oas-
sengers. He looked again, and liis blood seemed to turn
to strawberry ice cream in his veins. Burly, arrogant,
debonair as ever, H. Ferguson Hedges, the man he had
killed, was coining toward him ten feet away.
When Hedges saw Merriam his face flushed a dark
red. Then he shouted in his old, bluff way: "Hello,
Merriam. Glad to see you. Didn't expect to find you
out here. Quinby, this is my old friend Merriam, of
New York — Merriam, Mr. Quinby."
Merriam gave Hedges and then Quinby an ice-cold hand.
"Br-r-r-r!" said Hedges. "But you've got a f rapped
flipper! Man, you're not well. You're as yellow as a
Chinaman. Malarial here? Steer us to a bar if there
is such a thing, and let's take a prophylactic."
Merriam, still half comatose, led them toward the
Hotel Orilla del Mar.
"Quinby and I," explained Hedges, puffing through
the slippery sand, "are looking out along the coast for
some investments. We've just come up from Concepci6n
and Valparaiso and Lima. The captain of this sub-
sidized ferry boat told us there was some good picking
around here in silver mines. So we got off. Now,
where is that cafe, Merriam ? Oh, in this portable soda-
Leaving Quinby at the bar, Hedges drew Merriam
"Now, what does this mean?" he said, with gruff
kindness. " Are you sulking about that fool row we had ?"
''I thought," stammered Merriam — "I heard — they
told me you were — that I had "
"Well, you didn't, and I'm not," said Hedges. "That
fool young ambulance surgeon told Wade I was a can-
didate for a coffin just because I'd got iired and quit
breathing. I laid up in a private hospital for a month;
but here I am, kicking as hard as ever. Wade and I
tried to find you, but couldn't. Now, Merriam, shake
hands and forget it all. I was as much to blame as you
were; and the shot really did me good — I came out of
the hospital as healthy and fit as a cab horse. Come on;
that drink's waiting."
"Old man," said Merriam, brokenly, "I don't know
how to thank you — I — well, you know "
"Oh, forget it," boomed Hedges. "Quinby'll die of
thirst if we don't join him."
Bibb was sitting on the shady side of the gallery waiting
for the eleven-o'clock breakfast. Presently Merriam
came out and joined him. His eye was strangely
"Bibb, my boy," said he, slowly waving his hand, "do
you see those mountains and that sea and sky and sun-
shine ?— they're mine, Bibbsy — all mine."
"You go in," said Bibb, "and take eight grains of
quinine, right away. It won't do in this climate for a
The World and the Door 15
man to get to thinking he's Rockefeller, or James O'Neill
% Inside, the purser was untying a great roll of newspapers,
many of them weeks old, gathered in the lower ports by
the Pajaro to be distributed at casual stopping-places.
Thus do the beneficent voyagers scatter news and enter-
tainment among the prisoners of sea and mountains.
Tio Pancho, the hotel proprietor, set his great silver*
rimmed ^anteojos upon his nose and divided the papers
into a number of smaller rolls. A barefooted muchacho
dashed in, desiring the post of messenger.
"Bien venido," said Tio Pancho. "This to Seiiora
Conant; that to el Doctor S-S-Schlegel — Dios! what a
name to say! — that to Seiior Davis — one for Don
Alberto. These two for the Casa de Huespedes, Numero
6, en la calle de las Buenas Gracias. And say to them all,
muchacho, that the Pajaro sails for Panama at three this
afternoon. If any have letters to send by the post, let
them come quickly, that they may first pass through the
Mrs. Conant received her roll of newspapers at four
o'clock. The boy was late in delivering them, because
he had been deflected from his duty by an iguana that
crossed his path and to which he immediately gave chase.
But it made no hardship, for she had no letters to send.
She was idling in a hammock in the patio of the house
that she occupied, half awake, half happily dreaming of the
paradise that she and Merriam had created out of th#
wrecks of their pasts. She was content now for the horizon
of that shimmering sea to be the horizon of her life. They
had shut out the world and closed the door.
Merriam was coming to her house at seven, after his
dinner at the hotel. She would put on a white dress and
an apricot-coloured lace mantilla, and they would walk
an hour under the cocoanut palms by the lagoon. She
smiled contentedly, and chose a paper at random from
the roll the boy had brought.
At first the words of a certain headline of a Sunday
newspaper meant nothing to her; they conveyed only
a visualized sense of familiarity. The largest type ran
thus: "Lloyd B. Conant secures divorce." And then the
subheadings: "Well-known Saint Louis paint manufac-
turer wins suit, pleading one year's absence of wife."
"Her mysterious disappearance recalled." " Nothing has
been heard of her since."
Twisting herself quickly out of the hammock, Mrs.
Conant's eye soon traversed the half-column of the
"Recall." It ended thus: "It will be remembered that
Mrs. Conant disappeared one evening in March of last
year. It was freely rumoured that her marriage with
Lloyd B. Conant resulted in much unhappiness. Storiea
were not wanting to the effect that his cruelty toward
his wife had more than once taken the form of physical
abuse. After her departure a full bottle of tincture of
aconite, a deadly poison, was found in a small medicine
cabinet in her bedroom. This might have been an
indication that she meditated suicide. It is supposed
The World and the Door 17
that she abandoned such dn intention if she possessed
it, and left her home instead."
Mrs. Conant slowly dropped the paper, and sat on a
chair, clasping her hands tightly.
"Let me think — O God! — let me think," she whis-
pered. "I took the bottle with me ... I threw it
out of the window of the train ... I . . .
there was another bottle in the cabinet . . . there
were two, side by side — the aconite — and the valerian
that I took when I could not sleep ... If they
found the aconite bottle full, why — but, he is alive, of
course — I gave him only a harmless dose of valerian
. . . I am not a murderess in fact . . . Ralph, I
— O God, don't let this be a dream!".
She went into the part of the house that she rented from
the old Peruvian man and his wife, shut the door, and
walked up and down her room swiftly and feverishly
for half an hour. Merriam's photograph stood in a frame
on a table. She picked it up, looked at it with a smile
of exquisite tenderness, and — dropped four tears on it.
And Merriam only twenty rods away! Then she stood
still for ten minutes, looking into space. She looked into
space through a slowly opening door. On her side of the
door was the building material for a castle of Romance —
love, an Arcady of waving palms, a lullaby of waves on
. the shore of a haven of rest, respite, peace, a lotus land
of dreamy ease and security — a life of poetry. and heart's
ease and refuge. Romanticist, will you tell me what
Mrs. Conant saw on the other side of the door? You
cannot? — that is, you will hot? Very well; then listen.
She saw herself go into a department store and buy five
spools of silk thread and three yards of gingham to make
an apron for the cook. "Shall I charge it y ma'am?"
asked the clerk. As she walked out a lady whom she met
greeted her cordially. " Oh, where did you get the pattern for
those sleeves, dear Mrs. Conant?" she said. At the corner
a policeman helped her across the street and touched his
helmet. "Any callers?" she asked the maid when she
reached home. "Mrs. Waldron," answered the maid,
and the two Misses Jenkinson." "Very well," she said.
You may bring me a cup of tea, Maggie."
Mrs. Conant went to the door and called Angela, the old
Peruvian woman. "If Mateo is there send him to me."
Mateo, a half-breed, shuffling and old but efficient, came.
"Is there a steamer or a vessel of any kind leaving
this coast to-night or to-morrow that I can get passage
on ? " she asked.
"At Punta Reina, thirty miles down the coast, senora,"
he answered, "there is a small steamer loading with
cinchona and dyewoods. She sails for San Francisco
to-morrow at sunrise. So says my brother, who arrived
in his sloop to-day, passing by Punta Reina."
"You must take me in that sloop to that steamer
to-night. Will you do that ? "
"Perhaps " Mateo shrugged a suggestive shoul-
der. Mrs. Conant took a handful of money from a
drawer and gave it to him.
The World and the Door 19
" Get the sloop ready behind the little point of land below
the town/' she ordered. "Get sailors, and be ready
to sail at six o'clock. In half an hour bring a cart partly
filled with straw into the patio here, and take my trunk
to the sloop. There is more money yet. Now, hurry."
For one time Mateo walked away without shuffling
"Angela," cried Mrs. Conant, almost fiercely, "come
and help me pack. I am going away. Out with this
trunk. My clothes first. Stir yourself. Those dark
dresses first. Hurry."
From the first she did not waver from her decision.
Her view was <;lear and final. Her door had opened
and let the world in. Her love for Merriam was not
lessened; but it now appeared a hopeless and unrealizable
thing. The visions of their future that had seemed so
blissful and complete had vanished. She tried to assure
herself that her renunciation was rather for his sake than
for her own. Now that she was cleared of her burden —
at least, technically — would not his own weigh too heavily
upon him ? If she should cling to him, would not the
difference forever silently mar and corrode their happiness ?
Thus she reasoned ; but there were a thousand little voices
calling to her that she could feel rather than hear, like the
hum of distant, powerful machinery — the little voices
of the world, that, when raised in unison, can send their
insistent call through the thickest door.
Once while packing, a brief shadow of the lotus dream
came back to her. She held Merriam's picture to her heart
with one hand, while she threw a pair of shoes into the
trunk with her other.
At six o'clock Mateo returned and reported the sloop
ready. He and his brother lifted the trunk into the cart*
covered it with straw and conveyed it to the point of
embarkation. From there they transferred it on board
in the sloop's dory. Then Mateo returned for additional
Mrs. Conant was ready. She had settled all business
matters with Angela, and was impatiently waiting. She
wore & long, loose black-silk duster that she often walked
about in when the evenings were chilly. On her head
was a small round hat, and over it the apricot-coloured
Dusk had quickly followed the short twilight. Mateo
led her by dark and grass-grown streets toward the point
behind which the sloop was anchored. On turning a
corner they beheld the Hotel Orilla del Mar three streets
away, nebulously aglow with its array of kerosene lamps.
Mrs. .Conant paused, with streaming eyes. "I must,
I must see him once before I go," she murmured in
anguish. But even then she did not falter in her decision.
Quickly she invented a plan by which she might speak to
him, and yet make her departure without his knowing.
She would walk past the hotel, ask some one to call him
out and talk a few moments on some trivial excuse,
leaving him expecting to see her at her home at seven.
She unpinned her hat and gave it to Mateo. "Keep
this, and wait here till I come," she ordered. Then she
The World and the Door 21
draped the mantilla over her head as she usually did when
walking after sunset, and went straight to the Orilla del
She was glad to see the bulky, white-clad figure of
Tio Pancho standing alone on the gallery.
"Tio Pancho," she said, with a charming smile, "may
I trouble you to ask Mr. Merriam to come out for just a
few moments that I may speak with him ?"
Tio Pancho bowed as an elephant bows.
"Buenos tardea, Seiiora Conant," he said, as a cavalier-
talks. And then he went on, less at his ease:
"But does not the seiiora know that Seiior Merriam
sailed on the Pajaro for Panama at' three o'clock of this
THE THEORY AND THE HOUND
NOT many days ago my old friend from the tropics.
J. P. Bridger, United States consul on the island of Ratona,
was in the city. We had wassail and jubilee and saw
the Flatiron building, and missed seeing the Bronxless
menagerie by about a couple of nights. And then, at the
ebb tide, we were walking up a street that parallels and
A woman with a comely and mundane countenance
passed us, holding in leash a wheezing, vicious, waddling,
brute of a yeljow pug. The dog entangled himself with
Bridgets legs and mumbled his ankles in a snarling,
peevish, sulky bite. Bridger, with a happy smile, kicked
the breath out of the brute; the woman showered us
with a quick rain of well-conceived adjectives that left
us in no doubt as to our place in her opinion, and we
passed on. Ten yards farther an old woman with dis-
ordered white hair and her bankbook tucked well hidden
beneath her tattered shawl begged. Bridger stopped
and disinterred for her a quarter from his holiday waist-
On the next corner a quarter of a ton of well-clotK&d
man with a rice-powdered, fat, white jowl, stood holding
The Theory and the Hound 28
the chain of a devil-born bulldog whose forelegs were
strangers by the length of a dachshund. A little woman
in a last-season's hat confronted him and wept, which
was plainly all she could do, while he cursed her in low,
sweet, practised tones.
Bridger smiled again — strictly to himself — and this
time he took out a little memorandum book and made
a note of it. This he had no right to do without due
explanation, and I said so.
"It's a new theory," said Bridger, "that I picked up
down in Ratona. I've been gathering support for it as I
knock about. The world isn't ripe for it yet, but — well
I'll tell you; and then you run your mind back along the
people you've known and see what you make of it."
And so I cornered Bridger in a place where they have
artificial palms and wine; and lie told me the story which
is here in my words and on his responsibility.
One afternoon, at three o'clock, on the island of Ratona,
a boy raced along the beach screaming, "Pajaro, ahoy!"
Thus he made known the keenness of his hearing and
"the justice of his discrimination in pitch, ,
x He who first heard and made oral proclamation con-
cerning the toot of an approaching steamer's whistle, and
correctly named the steamer, was a sbiall hero in Ratona
— until the. next steamer came. Wherefore, there was
rivalry among the barefoot youth of Ratpna, and many
fell victims to the softly blown conch shells of sloops- which,
as' they enter harbour, soun^ surprisingly like a distant
steamer's signal. • And some could name you the vessel
when it3 call, in your duller ears, sounded no louder than
che sigh of the wind through the branches of the cocoa-
• But to-day he who proclaimed the Pajaro gained his
honours. Ratona bent its ear to listen; and soon the
deep-tongued blast grew louder and nearer, and at length
Ratona saw above the line of palms on the low " point "
the two black funnels of the fruiter slowly creeping toward
the mouth of the harbour.
You must know that Ratona is an island twenty miles
off the south of a South American republic. It is a port
of that republic; and it sleeps sweetly in a smiling sea,
toiling not nor spinning; fed by the abundant tropics
where all things "ripen, cease and fall toward the grave."
Eight hundred people dream life away in a green-
embowered village that follows the horseshoe curve of
its bijou harbour. They are mostly Spanish and Indian
mestizos, with a shading of San Domingo Negroes, a
lightening of pure-blood Spanish officials and a slight
leavening of the froth of three or four pioneering white
races. No steamers touch at Ratona save the fruit steam-
ers which take on their banana inspectors there on their
way to the coast. They leave Sunday newspapers, ice, qui-
nine, bacon, watermelons and vaccine matter at the island
and that is about all the touch Ratona gets with the world.
The Pajaro paused at the mouth of the harbour, roll-
ing heavily in the swell that sent the whitecaps racing
beyond the smooth water inside. Already two dories
from the village — one conveying fruit inspectors, the
The Theory and the Hound 25
other going for what it could get — were halfway out to
The inspectors' dory was taken on board with them,
and the Pajaro steamed away for the mainland for its
load of fruit.
The other boat returned to Ratona bearing a contri-
bution from the Pajaro's store of ice, the usual roll of
newspapers and one passenger — Taylor Plunkett, sheriff
of Chatham County, Kentucky.
Bridger, the United States consul at Ratona, was clean-
ing his rifle in the official shanty under a bread-fruit tree
twenty yards from the water of the harbour. The consul
occupied a place somewhat near the tail of his political
party's procession. The music of the band wagon
sounded very faintly to him in the distance. The plums
of office went to others. Bridger's share of the spoils —
the consulship at Ratona — was little more than a prune
— a dried prune from the boarding-house department
of the public crib. But $900 yearly was opulence in
Ratona. Besides, Bridger had contracted a passion for
shooting alligators in the lagoons near his consulate, and
he was not unhappy.
He looked up from a careful inspection of his rifle lock
and saw a broad man filling his doorway. A broad,
noiseless, slow -moving man, sunburned almost to the
)rown of Vandyke. A man of forty-five, neatly clothed in
homespun, with scanty light hair, a close-clipped brown-
and-gray beard and pale-blue eyes expressing mildness
"You are Mr. Bridger, the consul," said the broad
man. "They directed me here. Can you tell me what
those big bunches of things like gourds are in those trees
that look Kke feather dusters along the edge of the water ? '"
"Take that chair," said the consul, reoiling his clean-
ing rag. "No, the other one — that bamboo thing won't
hold you. Why, they're cocoanuts — green cocoanuts.
The shell of 'em is always a light green before they're
"Much obliged," said the other man, sitting down
carefully. "I didn't quite like to tell the folks at home
they were olives unless I was sure about it. My name
is Plunkett. I'm sheriff of Chatham County, Kentucky.
T've got extradition papers in my pocket authorizing the
arrest of a man on this island. They've been signed by
the President of this country, and they're in correct shape.
The man's name is Wade Williams. He's in the cocoa-
nut raising business. What he's wanted for is the murder
of his wife two years ago. Where can I find him ? "
The consul squinted an eye and looked through his
"There's nobody on the island who calls himself 'Wil-
liams,'" he remarked.
"Didn't suppose there was," said Plunkett mildly,
* He'll do by any other name."
"Besides myself," said Bridger, "there are onK
two Americans on Ratona — Bob Reeves and Henry
"The man I want sells cocoanuts," suggested Plunkett
The Theory and the Hound 27
"You see that cocoanut walk extending up to the
point ? " said the consul, waving his hand toward the open
door. "That belongs to Bob Reeves. Henry Morgan
owns half the trees to loo'ard on the island."
"One month ago," said the sheriff, "Wade Williams
wrote a confidential letter to a man in Chatham county,
telling him where he was and how he was getting along.
The letter was lost; and the person that found it gave it
away. They sent me after him, and I've got the papers.
I reckon he's one of your cocoanut men for certain."
"You've got his picture, of course," said Bridger.
"It might be Reeves or Morgan, but I'd hate to think it.
They're both as fine fellows as you'd meet in an all-day
"No," doubtfully answered Plunkett; "there wasn't
any picture of Williams to be had. And I never saw him
myself. I've been sheriff only a year. But I've got a
pretty accurate description of him. About 5 feet 11;
dark hair and eyes; nose inclined to be Roman; heav\
about the shoulders; strong, white teeth, with none miss-
ing; laughs a good deal, talkative; drinks considerably
but never to intoxication; looks you square in the eye
when talking; age thirty-five. Which one of your men
does that description fit?"
The consul grinned broadly.
"I'll tell you what you do," he said, laying down his
rifle and slipping on his dingy black alpaca coat. "You
come along, Mr. Plunkett, and I'll take you up to see
the boys. If you can tell which one of 'em your descrip-
tion fits better than it does the other you have the advan
tage of me."
Bridger conducted the sheriff out and along the hard
beach close to which the tiny houses of the village were
distributed. Immediately back of the town rose sudden,
email, thickly wooded hills. Up one of these, by means
of steps cut in the hard clay, the consul led Plunkett.
On the very verge of an eminence was perched a two-
room wooden cottage with a thatched roof. A Carib
woman was washing clothes outside. The consul
ushered the sheriff to the door of the room that over-
looked the harbour.
Two men were in the room, about to sit down, in their
shirt sleeves, to a table spread for dinner. They bore
little resemblance one to the other in detail; but the
general description given by Plunkett could have been
iustly applied to either. In height, colour of hair, shape
af nose, build and manners each of them tallied with it.
They were fair types of jovial, ready-witted, broad-
gauged Americans who had gravitated together for com-
panionship in an alien land.
"Hello, Bridger!" they called in unison at sight of
the consul. "Come and have dinner with us!" And
then they noticed Plunkett at his heels, and came forward
with hospitable curiosity.
"Gentlemen," said the consul, his voice taking on
unaccustomed formality, "this is Mr. Plunkett. Mr.
Plunkett — Mr. Reeves and Mr. Morgan."
The cocoanut barons greeted the newcomer joyously
The Theory and the Hound 29
Reeves seemed about an inch taller than Morgan, but
his laugh was not quite as loud. Morgan's eyes were
deep brown; Reeves's were black." Reeves was the host
and busied himself with fetching other chairs and calling
to the Carib woman for supplemental table ware. It
was explained that Morgan lived in a bamboo shack to
"loo'ard," but that every day the two friends dined
together. Plunkett stood still during the preparations,
looking about mildly with his pale-blue eyes. Bridger
looked apologetic and uneasy.
At length two other covers were laid and the company
was assigned to places. Reeves and Morgan stood side
by side across the table from the visitors. Reeves nodded
genially as a signal for all to seat themselves. And then
suddenly Plunkett raised his hand with a gesture ol
authority. He was looking straight between Reeves
"Wade Williams," he said quietly, "you are under
arrest for murder."
Reeves and Morgan instantly exchanged a quick,
bright glance, the quality of which was interrogation,
with a seasoning of surprise. Then, simultaneously
they turned to the speaker with a puzzled and frank depre-
cation in their gaze.
"Can't say that we understand you, Mr. Plunkett,"
said Morgan, cheerfully. "Did you say 'Williams'?"
"What's the joke, Bridgy?" asked Reeves, turning
to the consul with a smile.
Before Bridger could answer Plunkett spoke again*
"I'll explain," he said, quietly. "One of you don't
need any explanation, but this is for the other one. One
of you is Wade Williams of Chatham County, Kentucky.
You murdered your wife on May 5, two years ago, after
ill-treating and abusing her continually for five years. I
have the proper papers in my pocket for taking you back
with me, and you are going. We will return on the
fruit steamer that comes back by this island to-morrow
to leave its inspectors. I acknowledge, gentlemen, that
I'm not quite sure which one of you is Williams. But
Wade Williams goes back to Chatham County to-morrow.
I want you to understand that."
A great sound of merry laughter from Morgan and
Reeves went out over the still harbour. Two or three
fishermen in the fleet of sloops anchored there looked up
at the house of the diablos Americanos on the hill and
"My dear Mr. Plunkett," cried Morgan, conquering
Iiis mirth, "the dinner is getting cold. Let us sit down
and eat. I am anxious to get my spoon into thaf shark-
fin soup. Business afterward."
"Sit down, gentlemen, if you please," added Reeves,
pleasantly. "I am sure Mr. Plunkett will not object.
Perhaps a little time may be of advantage to him in identi-
fying — the gentlemen he wishes to arrest."
"No objections, I'm sure," said Plunkett, dropping
into his chair heavily. "I'm hungry myself. I didn't
want to accept the hospitality of you folks without giving
you notice; that's all."
The Theory and the Hound 31
Reeves set bottles and glasses on the table.
"There's cognac/' he said, "and anisada, and Scotch
'smoke/ and rye. Take your choice."
Bridger chose rye, Reeves poured thi fingers of
Scotch for himself, Morgan took the same. The sheriff,
against much protestation, filled his glass from the water
Here's to the appetite," said Reeves, raising his glass,
of Mr. Williams!" Morgan's laugh and his drink
encountering sent him into a choking splutter. All began
to pay attention to the dinner, which was well cooked and
"Williams!" called Plunkett, suddenly and sharply.
All looked up wonderingly. Reeves found the sheriff's
mild eye resting upon him. He flushed a little.
"See here," he said, with some asperity, "my name's
Reeves, and I don't want you too " But the comedy
of the thing came to his rescue, and he ended with a laugh.
"I suppose, Mr. Plunkett," said Morgan, carefully
seasoning an alligator pear, "that you are aware of the
fact that you will import a good deal of trouble for your-
self into Kentucky if you take back the wrong man —
that is, of course, if you take anybody back ?"
"Thank you for the salt," said the sheriff. "Oh, I'll
take somebody back. It'll be one of you two gentlemen.
Yes, I know I'd get stuck for damages if I make a mis-
take. But I'm going to try to get the right man."
"I'll tell you what you do," said Morgan, leaning for-
ward with a jolly twinkle in his eyes. "You take me.
I'll go without any trouble. The cocoanut business hasn't
panned out well this year, and I'd like to make some
extra money out of your bondsmen."
"That's not fair," chimed in Reeves. "I got only
$16 a thousand for my last shipment. Take me, Mr.
"I'll take Wade Williams," said the sheriff, patiently,
" or I'll come pretty close to it."
"It's like dining with- a ghost," remarked Morgan,
with a pretended shiver. "The ghost of a murderer, too!
Will somebody pass the toothpicks to the shade of the
naughty Mr. Williams ?"
Plunkett seemed as unconcerned as if he were dining
at his own table in Chatham County. He was a gallant
trencherman, and the strange tropic viands tickled his
palate. Heavy, commonplace, almost slothful in his
movements, he appeared to be devoid of all the cunning
and watchfulness of the sleuth. He even ceased to
observe, with any sharpness or attempted discrimination,
the two men, one of whom he had undertaken with sur-
prising self-confidence, to drag away upon the serious
charge of wife-murder. Here, indeed, was a problem
set before him that if wrongly solved would have
amounted to his serious discomfiture, yet there he sat
puzzling his soul (to all appearances) over the novel flavour
of a broiled iguana cutlet.
The consul felt a decided discomfort. Reeves and
Morgan were his friends and pals; yet the sheriff from
Kentucky had a certain right to his official aid and moral
The Theory and the Hound 33
support. So Bridger sat the silentest around the board
and tried to estimate the peculiar situation. His con-
clusion was that both Reeves and Morgan, quickwitted,
as he knew them to be, had conceived at the moment of
Plunkett's disclosure of his mission — and in the brief
space of a lightning flash — the idea that the other might
be the guilty Williams; and that each of them had decided
in that moment loyally to protect his comrade against the
doom that threatened him. This was the consul's theory
and if he had been a bookmaker at a race of wits for life
and liberty he would have offered heavy odds against
the plodding sheriff from Chatham County, Kentucky.
When the meal was concluded the Carib woman came
and removed the dishes and cloth. Reeves strewed the
table with excellent cigars, and Plunkett, with the others^
lighted one of these with evident gratification.
"I may be dull," said Morgan, with a grin and a wink
at Bridger; "but I want to know if I am. Now, I say
this is all a joke of Mr. Plunkett's, concocted to frighten
two babes-in-the-woods. Is this Williamson to be taken
seriously or not ?"
"' Williams,'" corrected Plunkett gravely. "I never
got off any jokes in my life. I know *I wouldn't travel
2,000 miles to get off a poor one as this would be if I
didn't take Wade Williams back with me. Gentlemen V'
continued the sheriff, now letting his mild eyes travel
impartially from one of the company to another, "see :f
you can find any joke in this case. Wade Williams is
listening to the words I utter now; but out of politeness
1 will speak of him as a third person. For five years he
made his wife lead the life of a dog — No; I'll take that
back. No dog in Kentucky was ever treated as she was.
He spent the money that she brought him — spent it at
races, at the card table and on horses and hunting. He
was a good fellow to his friends, but a cold, sullen demon
at home. He wound up the five years of neglect by strik-
ing her with his closed hand — a hand as hard as a stone
— when she was ill and weak from suffering. She died
the next day; and he skipped. That's all there is to it.
It's enough. I never saw Williams; but I knew his
wife. I'm not a man to tell half. She and I were keep-
ing company when she met him. She went to Louisville
on a visit and saw him there. I'll admit that he spoilt
my chances in no time. I lived then on the edge of the
Cumberland mountains. I was elected sheriff of Chatham
County a year after Wade Williams killed his wife. "My
official duty sends me out here after him; but I'll admit
that there's personal feeling, too. And he's going
back with me. Mr. — er — Reeves, will you pass me a
match ? "
"Awfully imprudent of Williams," said Morgan, putting
his feet up against the wall, "to strike a Kentucky lady.
Seems to me I've heard they were scrappers."
"Bad, bad Williams," said Reeves, pouring out more
The two men spoke lightly, but the consul saw and
felt the tension and the carefulness in their actions and
words. 'Good old fellows," he said to himself; "they're
The Theory and the Hound 35
Doth all right. Each of 'em is standing by the other like
a little brick church."
And then a dog walked into the room where they sat —
a black-and-tan hound, long-eared, lazy, confident of
Plunkett turned his head and looked at the animal,
which halted, confidently, within a few feet of his chair.
Suddenly the sheriff, with a deep-mouthed oath, left
his seat and bestowed upon the dog a vicious and heavy
kick, with his ponderous shoe.
The hound, heart-broken, astonished, with flapping
ears and incurved tail, uttered a piercing yelp of pain
Reeves and the consul remained in their chairs, say-
ing nothing, but astonished at the unexpected show of
intolerance from the easy-going man from Chatham
But Morgan, with a suddenly purpling face, leaped
to his feet and raised a threatening arm above the
"You — brute!" he shouted, passionately; "why did
you do that?"
Quickly the amenities returned, Plunkett muttered
some indistinct apology and regained his seat. Morgan
with a decided effort controlled his indignation and also
returned to his chair.
/ And then Plunkett with the spring of a tiger, leaped
around the corner of the table and snapped handcuffs
\ on the paralyzed Morgan's wrists.
"Hound-lover and woman-killer!" lie cried; "gel
•eady to meet your God."
When Bridger had finished I asked him:
Did he get the right man?"
He did," said the Consul.
"And how did he know?" I inquired, being in a kind
When he put Morgan in the dory," answered Bridgei,
the next day to take him aboard the Pajaro, this man
Plunkett stopped to shake hands with me and I asked
him the same question.
"'Mr. Bridger/ said he, 'I'm a Kentuckian, and I've
seen a great deal of both men and animals. And I never
yet saw a man, that was overf orid of horses and dogs but
what was cruel to women.' "
THE HYPOTHESES OF FAILURE
LAWYER GOOCH bestowed his undivided attention
upon the engrossing arts of his profession. But one
(light of fancy did he allow his mind to entertain. Ht
was fond of likening his suite of office rooms to the bot-
tom of a ship. The rooms were three in number, with a
door opening from one to another. These doors could
also be closed.
"Ships," Lawyer Gooch would say, "are constructed
for safety, with separate, water-tight compartments in
their bottoms. If one compartment springs a leak it fills
with water; but the good ship goes on unhurt. Were it
not for the separating bulkheads one leak would sink
the vessel. Now it often happens that while I am occu-
pied with clients, other clients with conflicting interests
call. With the assistance of Archibald — an office boy
with a future — I cause, the dangerous influx to be di-
verted into separate compartments, while I sound with
my legal plummet the depth of each. If necessary,
they may be baled into the hallway and permitted to
^ escape by way of the stairs, which we may term the lee
scuppers. Thus the good ship of business is kept afloat;
whereas if the element that supports her were allowed
to mingle freely in her hold we might be swamped — ha,
The law is dry. Good jokes are few. Surely it
might be permitted Lawyer Gooch to mitigate the bore
of briefs, the tedium of torts and the prosiness of processes
with even so light a levy upon the good property of humour.
Lawyer Gooch's practice leaned largely to the settle-
ment of marital infelicities. Did matrimony languish
through complications, he mediated, soothed and arbi-
trated. Did it suffer from implications, he readjusted,
defended and championed. Did it arrive at the extremity
of duplications, he always got light sentences for his
But not always was Lawyer Gooch the keen, armed,
wily belligerent, ready with his two-edged sword to lop
off the shackles of Hymen. He had been known to build
up instead of demolishing, to reunite instead of severing,
to lead erring and foolish ones back into the fold instead
of scattering the flock. Often had he by his eloquent
and moving appeals sent husband and wife, weeping, back
into each other's arms. Frequently he had coached
childhood so successfully that, at the psychological
moment (and at a given signal) the plaintive pipe of
" Papa, won't you turn home adain to me and muwer ? "
had won the day and upheld the pillars of a tottering home.
Unprejudiced persons admitted that Lawyer Gooch
received as big fees from these reyoked clients as would
have been paid him had the cases been contested in court
Prejudiced ones intimated that his fees were doubled
The Hypotheses of Failure 39
because the penitent couples always came back later for
the divorce, anyhow.
There came a season in June when the legal ship of
Lawyer Gooch (to borrow his own figure) was nearly
becalmed. The divorce mill grinds slowly in June. It
is the month of Cupid and Hymen.
Lawyer Gooch, then, sat idle in the middle room of
his clientless suite. A small anteroom connected — or
rather separated — this apartment from the hallway.
Here was stationed Archibald, who wrested from visitors
their cards or oral nomenclature which he bore to his
master while they waited.
Suddenly, on this day, there came a great knocking
at the outermost door.
Archibald, opening it, was thrust aside as superfluous
by the visitor, who without due reverence at once pene-
trated to the office of Lawyer Gooch and threw himself
with good-natured insolence into a comfortable chair
facing that gentlemen.
"You are Phineas C. Gooch, attorney-at-law ? " said
the visitor, his tone of voice and inflection making his
words at once a question, an assertion and an accusation.
Before committing himself by a reply, the lawyer esti-
mated' his possible client in one of his brief but shrewd
and calculating glances.
The man was of the emphatic type — large-sized, active,
bold and debonair in demeanour, vain beyond a doubt,
slightly swaggering, ready and at ease. He was well-
clothed, but with a shade too much ornateness. He was
seeking a lawyer; but if that fact would seem to saddle
him with troubles they were not patent in his beaming
eye and courageous air.
"My name is Gooch," at length the lawyer admitted.
Upon pressure he would also have confessed to the Phineas
C. But he did not consider it good practice to volunteer
information. "I did not receive your card," he continued,
by way of rebuke, "so I " >
"I know you didn't," remarked the visitor, coolly;
"and you won't just yet. Light up?" He threw a leg
over an arm of his chair, and tqssed a handful of rich-
hued cigars upon the table. Lawyer Gooch knew the
brand. He thawed just enough to accept the invitation
"You are a divorce lawyer," said the cardless visitor.
This time there was no interrogation in his voice. Nor
did his words constitute a simple assertion. They formed
a charge — a denunciation — as one would say to a dog:
"You are a dog." Lawyer Gooch was silent under the
"You handle," continued the visitor, "all the various
ramifications of busted-up connubiality. You are a
surgeon, we might say, who extracts Cupid's darts when
he shoots 'em into the wrong parties. You furnish
patent, incandescent lights for premises where the torch
of Hymen has burned so low you can't light a cigar at it.
Am I right, Mr. Gooch?"
"I have undertaken cases," said the lawyer, guardedly,
"in the line to which your figurative speech seems to refer.
The Hypotheses of Failure 41
Do you wish to consult me professionally, Mr. "
The lawyer paused, with significance.
"Not yet," said the other, with an arch wave of his
cigar, "not just yet. Let us approach the subject with
the caution that should have been used in the original
act that makes this pow-wow necessary. There exists a
matrimonial jumble to be straightened out. But before
I give you names I want your honest — well, anyhow,
your professional opinion on the merits of the mix-up.
I want you to size up the catastrophe — abstractly — you
understand ? I'm Mr. Nobody; and I've got a story' to tell
you. Then you say what's what. Do you get my wireless ? "
"You want to state a hypothetical case?" suggested
Lawyer Gooch. •
"That's the word I was after. 'Apothecary' was the
best shot I could make at it in my mind. The hypo-
thetical goes. I'll state the case. Suppose there's a
woman — a deuced fine-looking woman — who has run
away from her husband and home ? She's badly mashed
on another man who went to her town to work up some
real estate business. Now, we may as well call this
woman's husband Thomas R. Billings, for that's his
name. I'm giving you straight tips on the cognomens.
The Lothario chap 13 Henry K. Jessup. The Billingses
lived in a little town called Susanville — a good many
miles from here. Now, Jessup leaves Susanville two
weeks ago. The next day Mrs. Billings follows him
She's dead gone on this man Jessup; you can bet yo'ir
law library on that."
Lawyer Gooch's client said this with such unctuous
satisfaction that even the callous lawyer experienced a
slight ripple of repulsion. He now saw clearly in his
fatuous visitor the conceit of the lady-killer, the egoistic
complacency of the successful trifler.
"Now," continued the visitor, "suppose this Mrs.
Billings wasn't happy at home? We'll say she and her
husband didn't gee worth a cent. They've got incom-
patibility to burn. The things she likes, Billings wouldn't
have as a gift with trading-stamps. It's Tabby and
Rover with them all the time. She's an educated woman
in science and culture, and she reads things out loud at
meetings. Billings is not on. He don't appreciate pro-
gress and obelisks and ethics, and things of that sort. Old
Billings is simply a blink when it comes to such things.
The lady is out and out above his class. Now, lawyer,
don't it look like a fair equalization of rights and wrongs
that a woman like that should be allowed to throw down
Billings and take the man that can appreciate her ? "
"Incompatibility," said Lawyer Gooch, "is undoubt-
edly the source of much marital discord and unhappiness.
Where it is positively proved, divorce would seem to be
the equitable remedy. Are you — excuse me — is this
man Jessup one to whom the lady may safely trust
"Oh, you can bet on Jessup," said the client, with a
confident wag of his head. " Jessup's all- right. He'll
do the square thing. Why, he left Susanville just to keep
people from talking aboi't M^« WJHocrs- But she fol-
The Hypotheses of Failure 4S
lowed him up, and now, of course, he'll stick to her.
When she gets a divorce, all legal and proper, Jessup
will do the proper thing."
"And now," said Lawyer Gooch, "continuing the hypo-
thesis, if you prefer, and supposing that my services should
be desired in the case, what "
The client rose impulsively to his feet.
"Oh, dang the hypothetical business," he exclaimed,
impatiently. "Let's let her drop, and get down to
straight talk. You ought to know who I am by this time.
I want that woman to have her divorce. I'll pay for
it The day you set Mrs. Billings free I'll pay you five
Lawyer Gooch's client banged his fist upon the table
to punctuate his generosity.
If that is the case " began the lawyer.
Lady to see you, sir," bawled Archibald, bouncing
in from his anteroom. He had orders to always announce
immediately any client that might come. There was no
sense in turning business away.
Lawyer Gooch took client number one by the arm and
led him suavely into one of the adjoining rooms. "Favour
me by remaining here a few minutes, sir," said he. "1
will return and resume our consultation with the least
possible delay. I am rather expecting a visit from a
very wealthy old lady in connection with a will. I will
not kecip you waiting long."
The breezy gentleman seated himself with obliging
acquiescence, and took up a magazine. The lawyer
44 , Whirligigs
returned to the middle office, carefully closing benini
him the connecting door.
"Show the lady in, Archibald," he said to the office
boy, who was awaiting the order.
A tall lady, of commanding presence and sternly hand-
some, entered the room. She wore robes — robes; not
clothes — ample and fluent. In her eye could be per-
ceived the lambent flame of genius and soul. In hei
hand was a green bag of the capacity of a bushel, and an
umbrella that also seemed to wear a robe, ample and
fluent. Ske accepted a chair.
"Are you Mr. Phineas C. Gooch, the lawyer?" she
asked, in formal and unconciliatory tones.
"I am," answered Lawyer Gooch, without circum-
/ocution. He never circumlocuted when dealing with
a woman. Women circumlocute. Time is wasted when
both sides in debate employ the same tactics.
"As a lawyer, sir," began the lady, "you may have
acquired some knowledge of the human heart. Do you
believe that the pusillanimous and petty conventions of
our artificial social life should stand as an obstacle in
the way of a noble and affectionate heart when it finds its
true mate among the miserable and worthless wretches:
in the world that are called men ?"
"Madam," said Lawyer Gooch, in the tone that he
used in curbing his female clients, "this is an office for
conducting the practice of law. I am a lawyer, not a
philosopher, nor the editor of an 'Answers to tim
Lovelorn ' column c ' a newspaper. I have otbel
The Hypotheses cf Failure 45
clients waiting. I will ask you kindly to come to the
"Well, you needn't get so stiff around the gills about
it," said the lady, with a snap of her luminous eyes and
a startling gyration of her umbrella. "Business is what
I've come for. I want your opinion in the matter of a
suit for divorce, as the vulgar would call it, but which is
really only the readjustment of the false and ignoble con-
ditions that the short-sighted laws of man have interposed
between a loving "
"I beg your pardon, madam," interrupted Lawyer
Gooch, with some impatience, "for reminding you again
that this is a law office. Perhaps Mrs. Wilcox "
"Mrs. Wilcox is all right," cut in the lady, with a hint
of asperity. "And so are Tolstoi, and Mrs. Gertrude
Atherton, and Omar Khayyam, and Mr. Edward Bok.
I've read 'em all. I would like to discuss with you the
divine right of the soul as opposed to the freedom-destroy-
ing restrictions of a bigoted and narrow-minded society.
But I will proceed to business. I would prefer to lay
the matter before you in an impersonal way until you
pass upon its merits. That is to describe it as a sup-
posable instance, without "
"You wish to state a hypothetical case ?" said Lawyer
"I was going to say that," said the lady, sharply.
"Now, suppose there is a woman who is all soul and
heart and aspirations for a complete existence. This
woman has a husband who is far below her in intellect, \r
Jaste — in everything. Bah! he is a brute. He despises
literature. He sneers at the lofty thoughts of the world's
great thinkers. He thinks only of real estate and such
sordid things. He is no mate for a woman with soul.
We will say that this unfortunate wife one day meets
with her ideal — a man with brain and heart and force.
She loves him. Although this man feels the thrill of a
new-found affinity he is too noble, too honourable to
declare himself. He flies from the presence of his
beloved. She flies after him, trampling, with superb
indifference, upon the fetters with which an unenlightened
social system would bind her. Now, what will a divorce
cost ? Eliza Ann Timmins, the poetess of Sycamore Gap,
got one for three hundred and forty dollars. Can I —
I mean can this lady I speak of get one that cheap?"
"Madam," said Lawyer Gooch, "your last two or
three sentences delight me with their intelligence and
clearness. Can we not now abandon the hypothetical
and come down to names and business ?"
"I should say so," exclaimed the lady, adopting the
practical with admirable readiness. "Thomas R. Bil-
lings is the name of the low bfrute who stands between
the happiness of his legal — his legal, but not his spiri-
tual — wife and Henry K. Jessup, the noble man whom
nature intended for her mate. I," concluded the client,
with an air of dramatic revelation, "am Mrs. Billings!"
"Gentlemen to see you, sir," shouted Archibald, invad-
ing the room almost at a handspring. Lawyer Gooch
arose from his chair.
The Hypotheses of Failure 47
"Mrs. Billings," he said courteously, "allow me to
conduct you into the adjoining office apartment for a few
minutes. I am expecting a very wealthy old gentleman
on business connected with a will. In a very short while
I will join you, and continue our consultation."
With his accustomed chivalrous manner, Lawyer
Gooch ushered his soulful client into the remaining
unoccupied room, and came out, closing the door with
The next visitor introduced by Archibald was a thin,
nervous, irritable-looking man of middle age, with a
worried and apprehensive expression of countenance.
He carried in one hand a small satchel, which he set down
upon the floor beside the chair which the lawyer placed
for him. His clothing was of good quality, but it was
worn without regard to neatness or style, and appeared to
be covered with the dust of travel.
"You make a specialty of divorce cases," he said, in
an agitated but business-like tone.
"I may say," began Lawyer Gooch, "that my practice
has not altogether avoided "
"I know you do," interrupted client number three.
"You needn't tell me. I've heard all about you. I have
a case to lay before you without necessarily disclosing
any connection that I might have with it — that is
"You wish," said Lawyer Gooch, "to state a hypo-
"You may call it that. I am a plain man of business,
r will be as brief as possible. We wilf first take up the
hypothetical woman. We will say she is married unco»-
genially. In many ways she is a superior woman. Phys-
ically she is considered to be handsome. She is devoted
to what she calls literature — poetry and prose, and
such stuff. Her husband is a plain man in the business
walks of life. Their hbme has not been happy, although
the husband has tried to make it so. Some time ago a
man — a stranger — came to the peaceful town in which
they lived and engaged in some real estate operations.
This woman met him, and became unaccountably infatu-
ated with him. Her attentions became so open that the
Man felt the community to be no safe place for him, so
he left it. She abandoned husband and heme, and
followed him. She forsook her home, where she was
provided with every comfort, to follow this man who had
inspired her with such a strange affection. Is there any-
thing more to be deplored," concluded the client, in a
trembling voice, "than the wrecking of a home by a
woman's uncalculating folly ? "
Lawyer Gooch delivered the cautious opinion that there
"This man she has gone to join," resumed the visitor,
"is not the man to make her happy. It is a wild and
foolish self-deception that makes her think he will. Her
husband, in spite of their many disagreements, is the only
one capable of dealing with her sensitive and peculiar
nature. But this she does not realize now."
"Would you consider a divorce the logical cure in the
?ase vou present?" asked Lawyer Gooch, who felt that
The Hypotheses of Failure 49
the conversation was wandering too far from the field of
"A divorce!" exclaimed the client, feelingly — almosl
tearfully. "No, no — not that. I have read, Mr. Gooch,
of many instances where your sympathy and kindly inter-
est led you to act as a mediator between estranged hus-
band and wife, and brought them together again. Let us
drop the hypothetical case — I need conceal no longer
that it is I who am the sufferer in this sad affair — the
names you shall have — Thomas R. Billings and wife —
and Henry K. Jessup, the man with whom she is
Client number three laid his hand upon Mr. Gooch's
arm. Deep emotion was written upon his careworn
face. "For Heaven's sake," he said fervently, "help
me in this hour of trouble. Seek out Mrs. Billings, and
persuade her to abandon this distressing pursuit of her
lamentable folly. Tell her, Mr. Gooch, that her husband
is willing to receive her back to his heart and home —
promise her anything that will induce her to return. I
have heard of your success in these matters. Mrs. Bil-
lings cannot be very far away. I am worn out with travel
and weariness. Twice during the pursuit I saw her,
but various circumstances prevented our having an inter-
view. Will you undertake this mission for me, Mr.
Gooch, and earn my everlasting gratitude ?"
"It is true," said Lawyer Gooch, frowning slightly at
the other's last words, but immediately calling up an
expression of .irtuous benevolence, "that on a number
of occasions I have been successful in persuading couple*
who sought the severing of their matrimonial bonds to
think better of their rash intentions and return to their
homes reconciled. But I assure you that the work is
often exceedingly difficult. The amount of argument,
perseverance, and, if I may be allowed to say it, eloquence
that it requires would astonish you. But this is a case
in which my sympathies would be wholly enlisted. I
feel deeply for you sir, and I would be most happy to see
husband and wife reunited. But my time," concluded
the lawyer, looking at his watch as if suddenly reminded
of the fact, " is valuable."
"I am aware of that," said the client, "and if you
will take the case and persuade Mrs. Billings to return
home and leave the man alone that she is following —
on that day I will pay you the sum of one thousand
dollars. I have made a little money in real estate during
the recent boom in Susanville, and I will not begrudge
"Retain your seat for a few moments, please," said
Lawyer Gooch, arising, and again consulting his watch.
"I have another client waiting in an adjoining room whom
I had very nearly forgotten. I will return in the briefest
The situation was now one that fully satisfied Lawyer
Gooch^s love of intricacy and complication. He revelled
in cases that presented such subtle problems and possi-
bilities. It pleased him to think that he was master of the
happiness and fate of the three individuals who sat, uncon-
The Hypotheses of Failure 51
scious of one another's presence, within his reach. His
old figure of the ship glided into his mind. But now the
figure failed, for to have filled every compartment of an
actual vessel would have been to endanger her safety;
while here, with his compartments full, his ship of affairs
could but sail on to the advantageous port of a fine, fat
fee. The thing for him to do, of course, was to wring
the best bargain he could from some one of his anxious
First he called to the office boy: "Lock the outer
door, Archibald, and admit no one." Then he moved,
with long, silent strides into the room in which client
number one waited. That gentleman sat, patiently
scanning the pictures in the magazine, with a cigar in his
mouth and his feet upon a table.
"Well," he remarked, cheerfully, as the lawyer entered,
"have you made up your mind? Does five hundred
dollars go for getting the fair lady a divorce ?"
"You mean that as a retainer ?" asked Lawyer Gooch,
"Hey? No; for the whole job. It's enough, ain't
"My fee," said Lawyer Gooch, "would be one thousand
five hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars down, and
the remainder upon issuance of the divorce."
A loud whistle came from client number one. His
feet descended to the floor.
'Guess we can't close the deal," he said, arising. "I
cleaned up five hunderd dollars in a little real estate
dicker down in Susanville. I'd do anything I could tc
free the lady, but it out-sizes my pile."
"Could you stand one thousand two hundred dollars?"
asked the lawyer, insinuatingly.
"Five hundred is my limit, I tell you. Guess I'll
have to hunt up a cheaper lawyer." The client put on
"Out this way, please," said Lawyer Gooch, opening
the door that led into the hallway.
As the gentleman flowed out of the compartment and
down the stairs, Lawyer Gooch smiled to himself. "Exit
Mr. Jessup," he murmured, as he fingered the Henry
Clay tuft of hair at his ear. "And now for the forsaken
husband." He returned to the middle office, and assumed
a businesslike manner.
"I understand," he said to client number three, "that
you agree to pay one thousand dollars if I bring about,
or am instrumental in bringing about, the return of Mrs.
Billings to her home, and her abandonment of her infatu-
ated pursuit of the man for whom she has conceived such
a violent fancy. Also that the case is now unreservedly in
my hands on that basis. Is that correct ? "
"Entirely," said the other, eagerly. "And I can
produce the cash any time at two hours' notice."
Lawyer Gooch stood up at his full height. His thin
figure seemed to expand. His thumbs sought the arm-
holes of his vest. Upon his face was a look of sym-
pathetic benignity that he always wore during such
The Hypotheses of Failure 53
"Then, sir," he said, in kindly tones, "I think I can
promise you an early relief from your troubles. I have
that much confidence in my powers of argument and
persuasion, in the natural impulses of the human heart
toward good, and in the strong influence of a husband's
unfaltering love. Mrs. Billings, sir, is here — in that
room " the lawyer's long arm pointed to the door.
" I will call her in at once; and our united pleadings "
Lawyer Gooch paused, for client number three had
leaped from his chair as if propelled by steel springs, and
clutched his satchel.
"What the devil," he exclaimed, harshly, "do you
mean? That woman in there! I thought I shook her
dff forty miles back."
He ran to the open window, looked out below, and threw
one leg over the sill.
"Stop!" cried Lawyer Gooch, in amazement. "What
would you do? Come, Mr. Billings, and face your
erring but innocent wife. Our combined entreaties cannot
fail to "
"Billings!" shouted the now thoroughly moved client.
TU Billings you, you old idiot!"
Turning, he hurled his satchel with fury at the lawyer's
head. It struck that astounded peacemaker between
the eyes, causing him to stagger backward a pace or two.
When Lawyer Gooch recovered his wits he saw that his
client had disappeared. Rushing to the window, he
leaned out, and saw the recreant gathering himself up from
the top of a shed upon which he had dropped from the
second-story window. Without stopping to collect his
hat he then plunged downward the remaining ten feet
to the alley, up which he flew with prodigious celerity
until the surrounding building swallowed him up from
Lawyer Gooch passed his hand tremblingly across his
brow. It was an habitual act with him, serving to clear
his thoughts. Perhaps also it now seemed to soothe the
spot where a very hard alligator-hide satchel had struck.
The satchel lay upon the floor, wide open, with its con*
tents spilled about. Mechanically Lawyer Gooch stooped
to gather up the articles. The first was a collar; and the
omniscient eye of the maji of law perceived, wonder-
ingly, the initials H. K. J. marked upon it. Then came
a comb, a brush, a folded map and a piece of soap. Lastly,
a handful of old business letters, addressed — every one
of them — to "Henry K. Jessup, Esq."
Lawyer Gooch closed the satchel, and set it upon the
table. He hesitated for a moment, and then put on his
hat and walked into the office boy's anteroom.
"Archibald," he said mildly, as he opened the hall door,
"I am going around to the Supreme Court rooms. In five
minutes you may step into the inner office, and inform
the lady who is waiting there that" — here Lawyer
Gooch made use of the vernacular — "that there's noth-
THE New York Enterprise sent H. B. Calloway as
special correspondent to the Russo-Japanese-Portsmouth
For two months Calloway hung about Yokohama
and Tokio, shaking dice with the other correspondents
for drinks of 'rickshaws — oh, no, that's something to
ride in; anyhow, he wasn't earning the salary that his
paper was paying him. But that was not Calloway's
fault. The little brown men who held the strings of
Fate between their fingers were not ready for the readers
of the Enterprise to season their breakfast bacon and
eggs with the battles of the descendants of the gods.
But soon the column of correspondents that were to
go out with the First Army tightened their field-glass
belts and went down to the Yalu with Kuroki. Calloway
was one of these.
Now, this is no history of the battle of the Yalu River.
That has been told in detail by the correspondents who
gazed at the shrapnel smoke rings from a distance of
three miles. But, for justice's sake, let it be understood
that the Japanese commander prohibited a nearer view.
Calloway's feat was accomplished before the battle
What he did was to furnish the Enterprise with the
biggest beat of the war. That paper published exclu-
sively and in detail the news of the attack on the lines of
the Russian General Zassulitch on the same day that it
was made. No other paper printed a word abuut it for
two days afterward, except a London paper, -whose
account was absolutely incorrect and untrue.
Calloway did this in face of the fact that General Kuroki
was making his moves and laying his plans with the pm-
foundest secrecy as far as the world outside his camps was
concerned. The correspondents were forbidden to send out
any news whatever of his plans; and every message that
was allowed on the wires was censored with rigid severity.
The correspondent for the London paper handed in
a cablegram describing Kuroki's plans; but as it was
wrong from beginning to end the censor grinned and let
it go through. *
So, there they were — Kuroki on one side of the Yalu
with forty-two thousand infantry, five thousand cavalry,
and one hundred and twenty-four guns. On the other
side, Zassulitch waited for him with only twenty-three
thousand men, and with a long stretch of river to guard.
And Calloway had got hold of some important inside
information that he knew would bring the Enterprise
staff around a cablegram as thick as flies around a Park
Row lemonade stand. If he could only get that message
past the censor — the new censor who had arrived and
taken his post that day!
Calloway did the obviously proper thing. He lit his pipe
Calloway } s Code 5?
and sat down on a gun carriage to think it over. And
there we must leave him; for the rest of the story, belongs
to Vesey, a sixteen-dollar-a-week reporter on the Enterprise.
Calloway's cablegram was handed to the managing editor
at four o'clock in the afternoon. He read it three times; and
then drew a pocket mirror from a pigeon-hole in his desk,
and looked at his reflection carefully. Then he went over to
the desk of Boyd, his assistant (he usually called Boyd when
he wanted himj, and laid the cablegram before him.
"It's from Calloway," he said. "See what you make
The message was dated at Wi-ju, and these were the
.. orda of it:
Foregone preconcerted rash witching goes muffled
rumour mine dark silent unfortunate richmond existing
great hotly brute select mooted parlous beggars ye angel
Boyd read it twice.
It's either a cipher or a sunstroke," said he.
Ever hear of anything like a code in the office — a
secret code?" asked the m. e., who had held his desk
for only two years. Managing editors come and go.
" None except the vernacular that the lady specials write
in," said Boyd. "Couldn't be an acrostic, could it?"
"I thought of that," said the m. e., "but the beginning
letters contain only four vowels. It must be a code of
"Try em in groups," suggested Boyd. "Let's see
— * Rash witching goes ' — not with me it doesn't. * Muf-
fled rumour mine ' — must have an underground wire.
1 Dark silent unfortunate richmond ' — no reason 'why he
should knock that town so hard. * Existing great hotly'
— no, it doesn't pan out. I'll call Scott."
The city editor came in a hurry, and tried his luck.
A city editor must know something about everything:
so Scott knew a little about cipher-writing.
" It may be what is called an inverted alphabet cipher/ 5
said he. "I'll try that. *R' seems to be the oftenest
used initial letter, with the exception of 'm.' Assuming
*r' to mean *e', the most frequently used vowel, we
transpose the letters — so."
Scott worked rapidly with his pencil for two minutes;
and then showed the first word according to his reading
— the word " Scejtzez."
"Great!" cried Boyd. "It's a charade. My first
is a Russian general. Go on, Scott."
" No, that won't work," said the city editor. " It's
undoubtedly a code. It's impossible to read it without
the key. Has the office ever used a cipher code?"
"Just what I was asking," said the m.e. "Hustle
everybody up that ought to know. We must get at it
some way. Calloway has evidently got hold of some-
thing big, and .the censor has put the screws on, or he
wouldn't have cabled in a lot of chop suey like this."
Throughout the office of the Enterprise a drag-net
Wis sent, hauling m such members of the staff as would
Calloway 9 s Code 59
be likely to know of a code, past or present, by reason
of their wisdom, information, natural intelligence, or
length of servitude. They got together in a group in
the city room, with the m. e. in the centre. No one had
heard of a code. All began to explain to the head investi-
gator that newspapers never use a code, anyhow — that
is, a cipher code. Of course the Associated Press stuff
is a sort of code — an abbreviation, rather — but
The m. e. knew all that, and said so. He asked each man
how long he had worked on the paper. Not one of them
had drawn pay from an Enterprise envelope for longer than
six years. Calloway had been on the paper twelve years.
"Try old Heffelbauer," said the m. e. "He was here
when Park Row was a potato patch."
Heffelbauer was an institution. He was half janitor,
half handy-man about the office, and half watchman —
thus becoming the peer of thirteen and one-half tailors.
Sent for, he came, radiating his nationality.
"Heffelbauer," said the m. e., "did you ever hear of a
code belonging to the office a long time ago — a private
code ? You know what a code is, don't you ? "
" Yah," said Heffelbauer. " Sure I know vat a code is.
Yah, apout dwelf or fifteen year ago der office had a code.
Der reborters in der city-room haf it here."
"Ah!" said the m. e. "We're getting on the trail now.
Where was it kept, Heffelbauer? What do you knew
"Somedimes," said the retainer, "dey keep it in der
little room behind der librarv room."
" Can you find it ? " asked the m. e. eagerly. " Do yot
know where it is?"
"Mein Gott!" said Heffelbauer. "How long you
dink a code live? Der reborters call him a maskeet,
But von day he butt mit his head der editor,
" Oh, he's talking about a goat," said Boyd. " Get
Again discomfited, the concerted wit and resource of
the Enterprise huddled around Calloway's puzzle, con-
sidering its mysterious words in vain.
Then Vesey came in.
Vesey was the youngest reporter. He had a thirty-
two-inch chest and wore a number fourteen collar; but
his bright Scotch plaid suit gave him presence and con-
ferred no obscurity upon his whereabouts. He wore his
hat in such a position that people followed him about to
see him take it off, convinced that it must be hung upon
a peg driven into the back of his head. He was never
without an immense, knotted, hard-wood cane with a
German-silver tip on its crooked handle. Vesey was
the best photograph hustler in the office. Scott said it
was because no living human being could resist the per-
sonal triumph it was to hand his picture over to Vesey.
Vesey always wrote his own news stories, except the big
ones, which were sent to the rewrite men. Add to this
fact that among all the inhabitants, temples, and groves
of the earth nothing existed that could abash Vesey, and
his dim sketch is concluded.
Calloway's Code 61
Vesey butted into the circle of cipher readers very much
as Heffelbauer's "code" would have done, and asked
what was up. Some one explained, with the touch of
half-familiar condescension that they always used toward
him. Vesey reached out and took the cablegram from
the m. e.'s hand. Under the protection of some special
Providence, he was always doing appalling things like
that, and coming off unscathed.
It's a code," said Vesey. "Anybody got the key?"
The office has no code," said Boyd, reaching for the
message. Vesey held to it.
"Then old Calloway expects us to read it, anyhow,"
said he. "He's up a tree, or something, and he's made
this up so as to get it by the censor. It's up to us. Gee!
I wish they had sent me, too. Say — we can't afford to
fall down on our end of it. 'Foregone, preconcerted
rash, witching' — h'm."
Vesey sat down on a table corner and began to whistle
softly, frowning at the cablegram.
"Let's have it, please," said the m. e. "We've got to
get to work on it."
"I believe I've got a line on it," said Vesey. "Give
me ten minutes."
He walked to his desk, threw his hat into a waste-basket,
spread out flat on his chest like a gorgeous lizard, and
started his pencil going. The wit and wisdom of the
Enterprise remained in a loose group, and smiled at one
another, nodding their heads toward Vesey. Then they
began to exchange their theories about the cipher.
It took Vesey exactly fifteen minutes. He brought to
the m. e. a pad with the code-key written on it.
"I felt the swing of it as soon as I saw it," said Vesey.
"Hurrah for old Calloway! He's done the Japs and
every paper in town that prints literature instead of news.
Take a look at that."
Thus had Vesey set forth the reading of the code :
Foregone — conclusion
Preconcerted — arrangement
Rash — act
Witching — hour of midnight
Goes — without saying
Muffled — report
Rumour — hath it
Mine — host
Dark — horse
Silent — majority
• Unfortunate — pedestrians *
Richmond — in the field
Existing — conditions
Great — White Way
Hotly — contested
Brute — force
Select — few
Mooted — question
Parlous — times
Beggars — description
Ye — correspondent
Angel — unawares
Incontrovertible — fact
* Mr. Vesey afterward explained that the logical journalistic complement of the
*ord M unfortunate " was once the word " victim. " But, since the automobile be-
came so popular, the correct following word is now " pedestrians. " Of course, in
Calloway's code it meant infantry.
Calloway's Code 63
It's simply newspaper English," explained Vesey.
I've been reporting on the Enterprise long enough to
know it by heart. Old Calloway gives us the cue word,
and we use the word that naturally follows it just as we
use 'em in the paper. Read it over, and you'll see how
pat they drop into their places. Now, here's the message
he intended us to get."
Vesey handed out another sheet of paper.
Concluded arrangement to act at hour of midnight
without saying. Report hath it that a large body of
cavalry and an overwhelming force of infantry will be
thrown into the field. Conditions white. Way con-
tested by only a small force. Question the Times descrip-
tion. Its correspondent is unaware of the facts.
"Great stuff!" cried Boyd excitedly. "Kuroki crosses
the Yalu to-night and attacks. Oh, we won't do a thing
to the sheets that make up with Addison's essays, real
estate transters, and bowling scores!"
"Mr. Vesey," said the m. e., with his jollying - which -
you - should - regard - as - a - favour manner, "you have
zast a serious reflection upon the literary standards of
the paper that employs you. You have also assisted
materially in giving us the biggest 'beat' of the year. I
will let you know in a day or two whether you are to be
discharged or retained at a larger salary. Somebody
send Ames to me."
Ames was the king-pin, the snowy-petalled marguerite,
the star-bright looloo of the rewrite men. He saw
attempted murder in the- pains of green-apple co'»«
cyclones in the summer zephyr, lost children in every top-
spinning urchin, an uprising of the down-trodden masses in
every hurling of a derelict potato at a passing automobile.
When not rewriting, Ames sat on the porch of his Brooklyn
viha, playing checkers with his ten-year-old son.
Ames and the "war editor" shut themselves in a room.
There was a map in there stuck full of little pins that
represented armies and divisions. Their fingers had
been itching for days to move those pins along the crooked
line of the Yalu. .They did so now; and in words of fire
Ames translated Calloway's brief message into a front
page masterpiece that set the world talking. He told of
the secret councils of the Japanese officers; gave Kuroki's
flaming speeches in full; counted the cavalry and infantry
to a man and a horse; described the quick and silent
building of the bridge at Suikauchen, across which the
Mikado's legions were hurled upon the surprised Zas-
sulitch, whose troops were widely scattered along the river.
And the battle! — well, you know what Ames can do
with a battle if you give him just one smell of smoke for
a foundation. And in the same story, with seemingly
supernatural knowledge, he gleefully scored the most
profound and ponderous paper in England for the false
and misleading nrrount of the intended movements of
the Japanese First Army printed in its issue of the same date.
Only one error was made; and that was the fault of
the cable operator at Wi-ju. Calloway pointed it out
after he came back. The word "great" in his code
Calloway's Code 65
uould have been "gage," and its complemental words
"of battle." But it went to Ames "conditions white,"
l nd of course he took that to mean snow. His description
>t the Japanese army struggling 'through the snowstorm,
blinded by the whirling flakes, was thrillingly vivid. The
jrtists turned out some effective illustrations that made a
liit as pictures of the artillery dragging their guns through
ihe drifts. But, as the attack was made on the first day
af May the "conditions white" excited some amusement.
But it made no difference to the Enterprise, anyway.
It was wonderful. And Calloway was wonderful in
having made the new censor believe that his jargon of
words meant no more than a complaint of the dearth of
news and a petition for more expense money. And
Vesey was wonderful. And most wonderful of all are
words, and how they make friends one with another,
being oft associated, until not even obituary notices
Ihem do part.
On the second day following, the city editor halted at
Vesey's desk where the reporter was writing the story of
* man who had broken his leg by falling into a «.x)al-hoIe
— Ames having failed to find a murder motive m it.
"The old man says your salary is to be raised to twenty
I week," said Scott.
"All right," said Vesey. "Every little helps. Say
— Mr. Scott, which would you say — 'We can state
without fear of successful contradiction/ or, * On the whole
*t can be safely asserted* ?"
A MATTER OF MEAN ELEVATION
ONE winter the Alcazar Opera Company of New
Orleans made a speculative trip along the Mexican,
Central American and South American coasts. The
venture proved a most successful one. The music-
loving, impressionable Spanish-Americans deluged the
company with dollars and "vivas." The manager waxed
plump and amiable. But for the prohibitive climate
he would have put forth the distinctive flower of his
prosperity — the overcoat of fur, braided, frogged and
opulent. Almost was he persuaded to raise the salaries
of his company. But with a mighty effort he conquered
the impulse toward such an unprofitable effervescence of
At Macuto, on the coast of Venezuela, the company
scored its greatest success. Imagine Coney Island
translated into Spanish and you will comprehend Macuto.
The fashionable season is from November to March.
Down from La Guayra and Caracas and Valencia and
other interior towns flock the people for their holiday sea-
son. There are bathing and fiestas and bull fights and
scandal. And then the people have a passion for music
that the bands in the plaza and on the sea beach stir but
A Matter of Mean Elevation 67
do not satisfy. The coming of the Alcazar Opera Com-
pany aroused the utmost ardour and zeal among the
The illustrious Guzman Blanco, President and Dic-
tator of Venezuela, sojourned in Macuto with his court
for the season. That potent ruler — who himself paid
a subsidy of 40,000 pesos each year to grand opera in
Caracas — ordered one of the Government warehouses
to be cleared for a temporary theatre. A stage was quickly
constructed and rough wooden benches made for the
audience. Private boxes were added for the use of the
President and the notables of the army and Government.
The company remained in Macuto for two weeks.
Each performance filled the house as closely as it could
be packed. Then the music-mad people fought for
room in the open doors and windows, and crowded about,
hundreds deep, on the outside. Those audiences formed
a brilliantly diversified patch of colour. The hue of their
faces ranged from the clear olive of the pure-blood Span-
iards down through the yellow and brown shades of the
Mestizos xo the coal-black Carib and the Jamaica Negro.
Scattered among them were little groups of Indians with
faces like stone idols, wrapped in gaudy fibre-woven
blankets — Indians down from the mountain states of
Zamora and Los Andes and Miranda to trade their gold
dust in the coast towns.
The spell cast upon these denizens of the interior
fastnesses was remarkable. They sat in petrified ecstasy,
conspicuous among the excitable Macutians, who wildh
strove with tongue and hand to give evidence of their
delight. Only once did the sombre rapture of these
aboriginals find expression. During the rendilon of
"Faust," Guzman Blanco, extravagantly pleased by the
"Jewel Song," cast upon the stage a purse of gold pieces
Other distinguished citizens followed his lead to the extent
of whatever loose coin they had convenient, while some
of the fair and fashionable senoras were moved, in imita-
tion, to fling a jewel or a ring or two at the feet of the
Marguerite — who was, according to the bills, Mile.
Nina Giraud. Then, from different parts of the house
rose sundry of the stolid hillmen and cast upon the stage
little brown and dun bags that fell with soft "thumps'*
and did not rebound. It was, no doubt, pleasure at the
tribute to her art that caused Mile. Giraud's eyes to
shine so brightly when she opened these little deerskiu
bags in her dressing room and found them to contain
pure gold dust. If so, the pleasure was rightly fa^rs, for
her voice in song, pure, strong and thrilling with the feeling
of the emotional artist, deserved the tribute that it earned.
But the triumph of the Alcazar Opera Company is not
the theme: it but leans upon and colours it. There
happened in Macuto a tragic thing, an unsolvable mystery,
that sobered for a time the gaiety of the happy season.
One evening between the short twilight and the time
when she should have whirled upon the stage in the red
and black of the ardent Carmen, Mile. Nina Giraud dis-
appeared from the sight and ken of 6,000 pairs of eyes
and as many minds in Macuto. There was the usual
A Matter of Mean Elevation 69
turmoil and hurrying to seek her. Messengers flew to
the little French-kept hotel where she stayed; others of
the company hastened here or there where she might be
lingering in some tienda or unduly prolonging her bath
upon the beach. All search was fruitless. Mademoi-
selle had vanished.
Half an hour passed and she did not appear. The
dictator, unused to the caprices of prime donne, became
impatient. He sent an aide from his box to say to the
manager that if the curtain did not at once rise he would
immediately hale the entire company to the calabosa,
though it would desolate his heart, indeed, to be com-
pelled to such an act. Birds in Macuto could be made
The manager abandoned hope for the time of Mile.
Giraud. A member of the chorus, who had dreamed
hopelessly for years of the blessed opportunity, quickly
Carmenized herself and the opera went on.
Afterward, when the lost cantatrice appeared not, the
aid of the authorities was invoked. The President at
once set the army, the police and all citizens to the search.
Not one clue to Mile. Giraud's disappearance was found.
The Alcazar left to fill engagements farther down the
On the way back the steamer stopped at Macuto and
the manager made anxious inquiry. Not a trace of the
lady had been discovered. The Alcazar could do no
moge. The personal belongings of the missing lady were
?u>red in the hotel against her possible later reappearance
and the opera company continued upon its homeward
voyage to New Orleans.
On the camino real along the beach the two saddle
mules and the four pack mules of Don Senor Johnny
Armstrong stood, patiently awaiting the crack of the whip
of the arriero, Luis. That would be the signal for the
start on another long journey into the mountains. The
pack mules were loaded with a varied assortment of hard-
ware and cutlery. These articles Don Johnny traded to
the interior Indians for the gold dust that they washed
from the Andean streams and stored in quills and bags
against his coming. It was a profitable business, and
Senor Armstrong expected soon to be able to purchase
the coffee plantation that he coveted.
Armstrong stood on the narrow sidewalk, exchanging
garbled Spanish with old Peralto, the rich native merchant
who had just charged him four prices for half a gross of
pot-metal hatchets, and abridged English with Rucker,
the little German who was Consul for the United States.
"Take with you, senor," said Peralto, "the blessings
of the saints upon your journey."
"Better try quinine," growled Rucker through his pipe.
"Take two grains every night. And don't make your
trip too long, Johnny, because we haf needs of you. It is
ein villainous game dot Melville play of whist, and dere
Vs no oder substitute. Auf vriedersehen, und keep your
A Matter of Mean Elevation 71
eyes dot mule's ears between when you on der edge of
der brecipices ride."
The bells of Luis's mule jingled and the pack train
filed after the warning note. Armstrong waved a good-
bye and took his place at the tail of the procession. Up
the narrow street they turned, and passed the two-story
wooden Hotel Ingles, where Ives and Dawson and Rich-
ards and the rest of the chaps were dawdling on the broad
piazza, reading week-old newspapers. They crowded to
the railing and shouted many friendly and wise and foolish
farewells after him. Across the plaza they trotted slowly
past the bronze statue of Guzman Blanco, within its fence
of bayoneted rifles captured from revolutionists, and out
of the town between the rows of thatched huts swarming
with the unclothed youth of Macuto. They plunged
into the damp coolness of banana groves at length to
emerge upon a bright stream, where brown women in
scant raiment laundered clothes destructively upon the
rocks. Then the pack train, fording the stream, attacked
the sudden ascent, and bade adieu to such civilization as
the coast afforded.
For weeks Armstrong, guided by Luis, followed his
regular route among the mountains. After he had col-
lected an arroba of the precious metal, winning a profit
of nearly $5,000, the heads of the lightened mules were
turned down- trail again. Where the head of the Guarico
River springs from a great gash in the mountain-side,
Luis halted the train.
"Half a day's journey from here, Seiior," said he,
"is the village of Tacuzama, which we have never visited.
I think many ounces of gold may be procured there. It
is worth the trial."
Armstrong concurred, and they turned again upward
toward Tacuzama. The trail was abrupt and precipi-
tous, mounting through a dense forest. As night fell,
dark and gloomy, Luis once more halted. Before them
was a black chasm, bisecting the path as far as they could
Luis dismounted. "There should be a bridge," he
called, and ran along the cleft a distance. "It is here,"
he cried, and remounting, led the way. In a few moments
Armstrong heard a sound as though a thunderous drum
were beating somewhere in the dark. It was the falling
of the mules' hoofs upon the bridge made of strong hides
lashed to poles and stretched across the chasm. Half a
mile further was Tacuzama. The village was a congre-
gation of rock and mud huts set in the profundity of an
obscure wood. As they rode in a sound inconsistent
with that brooding solitude met their ears. From a
long, low mud hut that they were nearing rose the glorious
voice of a woman in song. The words were English,
the air familiar to Armstrong's memory, but not to his
He slipped from his mule and stole to a narrow window
in one end of the house. Peering cautiously inside, he
saw, within three feet of him, a woman of marvellous,
imposing beauty, clothed in a splendid loose robe of
leopard skins. The hut was packed close to the small
A Matter of Mean Elevation 73
space in which she stood with the squatting figures of
The woman finished her song and seated herself close
to the little window, as if grateful for the unpolluted air
that entered it. When she had ceased several of the
audience rose and cast little softly-falling bags at her feet.
A harsh murmur — no doubt a barbarous kind of applause
and comment — went through the grim assembly.
Armstrong was used to seizing opportunities promptly.
Taking advantage of the noise he called to the woman in
a low but distinct voice: " Do not turn your head this way,
but listen. I am an American. If you need assistance
tell me how I can render it. Answer as briefly as you can."
The woman was worthy of his boldness. Only by a
sudden flush of her pale cheek did she acknowledge
understanding of his words. Then she spoke, scarcely
moving her lips.
"1 am held a prisoner by these Indians. God knows
I need help. In two hours come to the little hut twenty
yards toward the mountain-side. There will be a light
and a red curtain in the window. There is always a
guard at the door whom you will have to overcome. For
the love of heaven, do not fail to come."
The story seems to shrink from adventure and rescue
and mystery. The theme is one too gentle for those
brave and quickening tones. And yet it reaches as far
back as time itself. It has been named "environment,"
which is as weak* a word as any to express the unnamable
kinship of man to nature, that queer fraternity that causes
stones and trees and salt water and clouds to play upon
our emotions. Why are we made serious and solemn
and sublime by mountain heights, grave and contempla-
tive by an abundance, of overhanging trees, reduced to
inconstancy and monkey capers by the ripples on a sandy
beach ? Did the protoplasm — but enough. The chem-
ists are looking into the matter, and before long they will
have all life in the table of the symbols.
Briefly, then, in order to confine the story within
scientific bounds, John Armstrong went to the hut, choked
the Indian guard and carried away Mile. Giraud. With
her was also conveyed a number of pounds of gold dust
she had collected during her six months' forced engage-
ment in Tacuzama. The Carabobo Indians are easily
the most enthusiastic lovers of music between the equator
and the French Opera House in New Orleans. They
are also strong believers that the advice of Emerson was
good when he said : " The thing thou wantest, O discon-
tented man — take it, and pay the price." A number
of them had attended the performance of the Alcazar
Opera Company in Macuto, and found Mile. Giraud 's
style and technique satisfactory. They wanted her, so
they took her one evening suddenly and without any fuss.
They treated her with much consideration, exacting
only one song recital each day. She was quite pleased at
being rescued by Mr. Armstrong. So much for mystery
and adventure. Now to resume the theory of the proto-
plasm. » :>t
John Armstrong and Mile. Giraud rode among th*
A Matter of Mean Elevation 75
Andean peaks, enveloped in their greatness and sublimity.
The mightiest cousins, furthest removed, in nature's
great family become conscious of the tie. Among those
huge piles of primordial upheaval, amid those gigantic
silences and elongated fields of distance the littlenesses
of men are precipitated as one chemical throws down a
sediment from another. They moved reverently, as
in a temple. Their souls were uplifted in unison with the
stately heights. They travelled in a zone of majesty and
To Armstrong the woman seemed almost a holy thing.
Yet bathed in the white, still dignity of her martyrdom
chat purified her earthly beauty and gave out, it seemed,
an aura of transcendent loveliness, in those first hours
of companionship she drew from him an adoration that
was half human Jove, half the worship of a descended
Never yet since her rescue had she smiled. Over her
dress she still wore the robe of leopard skins, for the
mountain air was cold. She looked to be some splendid
princess belonging to those wild and awesome altitudes.
The spirit of the region chimed with hers. Her eyes
were always turned upon the sombre cliffs, the blue gorges
and the snow-clad turrets, looking a sublime melancholy
equal to their own. At times on the journey she sang
thrilling te deums and misereres that struck the true note
of the hills, and made their route ' seem like a solemn
march down a cathedral aisle. The rescued one spoke
but seldom, her mood partaking; of the hush of nature
that surrounded them. Armstrong looked upon her as
an angel. He could not bring himself to the sacrilege
of attempting to woo her as other women may be wooed.
On the third day they had descended as far as the
tierra templada, the zona of the table lands and foot hills.
The mountains were receding in their rear, but still
towered, exhibiting yet impressively their formidable
heads. Here they met signs of man. They saw the
white houses of coffee plantations gleam across the clear-
ings. They struck into a road where they met travellers
and pack-mules. Cattie were grazing on the slopes.
They passed a little village where the round-eyed ninos
shrieked and called at sight of them.
Mile. Giraud laid aside her leopard-skin robe. It
seemed to be a trifle incongruous now. In the moun-
tains it had appeared fitting and natural. And if Arm-
strong was not mistaken she laid aside with it something
of the high dignity of her demeanour. As the country
became more populous and significant of comfortable
life he saw, with a feeling of joy, that the exalted princess
and priestess of the Andean peaks was changing to a
woman— an earth woman, but no less enticing. A
little colour crept to the surface of her marble cheek.
She arranged the conventional dress that the removal of
the robe now disclosed with the solicitous touch of one
who is conscious of the eyes of others. She smoothed
the careless sweep of her hair. A mundane interest,
long latent in the chilling atmosphere of the ascetic peaks,
showed in her eves.
A Matter of Mean Elevation, 77
This thaw in his divinity sent Armstrong's heart going
faster. So might an Arctic explorer thrill at his first ken
of green fields and liquescent waters. They were on
a lower plane of earth and life and were succumbing to
its peculiar, subtle influence. The austerity of the hills
no longer thinned the air they breathed. About them
was the breath of fruit and corn and builded homes,
the comfortable smell of smoke and warm earth and the
consolations man has placed between himself and the
dust of his brother earth from which he sprung. While
traversing those awful mountains, Mile. Giraud had
seemed to be wrapped in their spirit of reverent reserve.
Was this that same woman — now palpitating, warm,
eager, throbbing with conscious life and charm, feminine
to her finger-tips? Pondering over this, Armstrong
felt certain misgivings intrude upon his thoughts. He
wished he could stop there with this changing creature,
descending no farther. Here was the elevation and
environment to which her nature seemed to respond with
its best. He feared to go down upon the man-dominated
levels. Would her spirit not yield still further in that
artificial zone to which they were descending ?
Now from a little plateau they saw the sea flash at the
edge of the green lowlands. Mile. Giraud gave a little,
"Oh! look, Mr. Armstrong, there is the sea! Isn't
it lovely? I'm so tired of mountains." She heaved a
pretty shoulder in a gesture of repugnance. "Those
horrid Indians ! Just think of what I suffered ! Although
/8 . Whirligig*
I suppose I attained my ambition of becoming a stellar
attraction, I wouldn't care to repeat the engagement. It
was very nice of you to bring me away. Tell me, Mr.
Armstrong — honestly, now — do I look such an awful,
awful fright ? I haven't looked into a mirror, you know,
Armstrong made answer according to his changed
moods. Also he laid his hand upon hers as it rested upon
the horn of her saddle. Luis was at the head of the pack
train and could not see. She allowed it to remain there,
and her eyes smiled frankly into hisw
Then at sundown they dropped upon the coast level
under the palms and lemons among the vivid greenfc and
scarlets and ochres of the tierra caliente. They rode
into Macuto, and saw the line of volatile bathers frolick-
ing in the surf. The mountains were very far
Mile. Giraud's eyes were shining with a joy that could
not have existed under the chaperonage of the mountain-
tops. There were other spirits calling to her — nymphs
of the orange groves, pixies from the chattering surf
imps, born of the music, the perfumes, colours and the
insinuating presence of humanity. She laughed aloud,
musically, at a sudden thought.
"Won't there be a sensation ?" she called to Armstrong.
"Don't I wish I had an engagement just now, though!
What a picnic the press agent would have! 'Held a
prisoner by a band of savage Indians subdued by the
spell of her wonderful voice' — wouldn't that make great
A Matter of Mean Elevation 79
stuff ? But I guess I quit the game winner, anyhow —
there ought to be a couple of thousand dollars in
that sack of gold dust I collected as encores, don't you
He left her at the door of the little Hotel de Buen
Descansar, where she had stopped before. Two hours
later he returned to the hotel. He glanced in at the
open door of the little combined reception room and
Half a dozen of Macuto's representative social and
official caballeros were distributed about the room.
Senor Villablanca, the wealthy rubber concessionist,
reposed his fat figure on two chairs, with an emollient
smile beaming upon his chocolate-coloured face. Guil-
bert, the French mining engineer, leered through his
polished nose-glasses. Colonel Mendez, of the regular
army, in gold-laced uniform and fatuous grin, was busily
extracting corks from champagne bottles. Other pat-
terns of Macutian gallantry and fashion pranced and
posed. The air was hazy with cigarette smoke. Wine
dripped upon the floor.
Perched upon a table in the centre of the room in an
attitude of easy preeminence was Mile. Giraud. A
chic costume of white lawn and cherry ribbons supplanted
her travelling garb. There was a suggestion of lace, and
a frill or two, with a discreet, small implication of hand-
embroidered pink hosiery. Upon her lap rested a guitar.
In her face was the light of resurrection, the peace of
80 Whirligigs y
elysium attained through fire and suffering. She wa*
singing to a lively accompaniment a little song:
" When you see de big round moon
Comin' up like a balloon,
Dis nigger skips fur to kiss de lips
Ob his stylish, black-faced coon."
The singer caught sight of Armstrong.
"Hi! there, Johnny," she called; "I've been expecting
you for an hour. What kept you? Gee! but these
smoked guys are the slowest you ever saw. They ain't
on, at all. Come, along in, and I'll make this coffee-
coloured old sport with the gold epaulettes open one for
you right off the ice."
"Thank you," said Armstrong; "not just now, I
believe. I've several things to attend to."
He walked out and down the street, and met Rucker
coming up from the Consulate.
"Play you a game of billiards," said Armstrong. "I
want something to take the taste of the sea level out of
IN GILT letters on the ground glass of the door of
room No. 962 were the words: "Robbins & Hartley,
Brokers." The clerks had gone. It was past five, and
with the solid tramp of a drove of prize Percherons, scrub-
women were invading the cloud-capped twenty-story
office building. A puff of red-hot air flavoured with
lemon peelings, soft-coal smoke and train oil came in
through the half -open windows.
Robbins, fifty, something of an overweight beau, and
addicted to first nights and hotel palm-rooms, pretended
to be envious of his partner's commuter's joys.
"Going to be something doing in the humidity line
to-night," he said. "You out-of-town chaps will be the
people, with your katydids and moonlight and long drinks
and things out on the front porch."
Hartley, twenty-nine, serious, thin, good-looking, ner-
vous, sighed and frowned a little.
"Yes," said he, "we always have cool nights in Floral-
hurst, especially in the winter."
A man with an air of mystery came in the door and
went up to Hartley.
Tve found where she lives," he announced in the
portentous half-whisper that makes the detective ai
work a marked being to his fellow men.
Hartley scowled him into a state of dramatic silence
and quietude. But by that time Robbins had got his
cane and set his tie pin to his liking, and with a debonair
nod went out to his metropolitan amusements.
"Here is the address," said the detective in a natural
tone, being deprived of an audience to foil.
Hartley took the leaf torn out of the sleuth's dingy
memorandum book. On it were pencilled the words
"Vivienne Arlington, No. 341 East — th Street, care of
"Moved there a week ago," said the detective. "Now,
if you want any shadowing done, Mr. Hartley, I can do
you as fine a job in that line as anybody in the city. It
will be only $7 a day and expenses. Can send in a daily
typewritten report, covering "
"You needn't go on," interrupted the broker. "It
isn't a case of that kind. I merely wanted the address.
How much shall I pay you?"
"One day's work," said the sleuth. "A tenner will
Hartley paid the man and dismissed him. Then he
left the office and boarded a Broadway car. At the first
large crosstown artery of travel he took an eastbound car
that deposited him in a decaying avenue, whose ancient
structures 6nce sheltered the pride and glory of the town.
Walking a few squares, he came to the building that he
sought. It was a new flathouse, bearing carved upon its
cheap stone portal its sonorous name, "The Vallambrosa."
Fire-escapes zigzagged down its front — these laden
with household goods, drying clothes, and squalling
children evicted by the midsummer heat. Here and
there a pale rubber plant peeped from the miscellaneous
mass, as if wondering to what kingdom it belonged —
vegetable, animal or artificial.
Hartley pressed the "McComus" button. The door
latch clicked spasmodically — now hospitably, now doubt-
fully, as though in anxiety whether it might be admitting
friends or duns. Hartley entered and began to climb the
stairs after the manner of those who seek their friends in
city flat-houses — which is the manner of a boy who
climbs an apple-tree, stopping when he comes upon wha*
. On the fourth floor he saw Vivienne standing in an
open door. She invited him inside, with a nod and a
bright, genuine smile. She placed a chair for him near
a window, and poised herself gracefully upon the edge
of one of those Jekyll-and-Hyde pieces of furniture that
are masked and mysteriously hooded, unguessable bulks
by day and inquisitorial racks of torture by night.
Hartley cast a quick, critical, appreciative glance at
her before speaking, and told himself that his taste in
choosing had been flawless.
Vivienne was about twenty-one. She was of the purest
Saxon type. Her hair was a ruddy golden, each filament
of the neatly gathered mass shining with its own lustre
and delicate graduation of colour. In perfect harmony
were her ivory-clear complexion and deep sea-blue eyes
that looked upon the world with the ingenuous calmness
of a mermaid or the pixie of an undiscovered mountain
stream. Her frame was strong and yet possessed the
grace of absolute naturalness. And yet with all her North-
^Tn clearness and frankness of line and colouring, there
seemed to be something of the tropics in her — something
of languor in the droop of her pose, of love of ease in her
ingenious complacency of satisfaction and comfort in
the mere act of breathing — something that seemed to
claim for her a right as a perfect work of nature to exist
and be admired equally with a rare flower or some beauti-
ful, milk-white dove among its sober-hued companions.
She was dressed in a white waist and cfark skirt — that
discreet masquerade of goose-girl and duchess.
"Vivienne," said Hartley, looking at her pleadingly,
"you did not answer my last letter. It was only by nearly
a week's search that I found where you had moved to.
Why have you kept me in suspense when you knew how
anxiously I was waiting to see you and hear from you?"
The girl looked out the window dreamily.
"Mr. Hartley," she said hesitatingly, "I hardly know
what to say to you. I realize all the advantages of your
offer, and sometimes I feel sure that I could be contented
with you. But, again, I am doubtful. I was born a
city girl, and I am afraid to bind myself to a quiet sub-
"My dear girl," said Hartley, ardently, "have I not
told you that you shall have everything that your heart
can desire that is in my power to give you ? You shall
come to the city for the theatres, for shopping and to visit
your friends as often as you care to. You can trust me,
can you not?"
" To the fullest," she said, turning her frank eyes upon
him with. a smile. "I know you are the kindest of men,
and that the girl you get will be a lucky one. I learned
all about you when I was at the Montgomerys'."
"Ah!" exclaimed Hartley, with a tender, reminiscent
light in his eye; "I remember well the evening I first saw
you at the Montgomerys'. Mrs. Montgomery was sound-
ing your praises to me all the evening. And she hardly
did you justice. I shall never forget that supper. Come,
Vivienne, promise me. I want you. You'll never
regret coming with me. No one else will ever give you
*»s pleasant a home."
The girl sighed and looked down at her folded hands.
A sudden jealous suspicion seized Hartley.
"Tell me, Vivienne," he asked, regarding her keenly,
"is there another — is there some one else?"
A rosy flush crept slowly over her fair cheeks and
"You shouldn't ask that, Mr. Hartley," she said, in
some confusion. "But I will tell you. There is one
other — but he has no right — I have promised him
"His name?" demanded Hartley, sternly.
"Rafford Townsend!" exclaimed Hartley, with a grim
tightening of his jaw. " How did that man come to know
you? After all I've done for him "
"His auto has just stopped below," said Vivienne,
bending over the window-sill. "He's coming for his
answer. Oh, I don't know what to do!"
The bell in the flat kitchen whirred. Vivienne hurried
to press the latch button.
"Stay here," said Hartley. "I will meet him in the
Townsend, looking like a Spanish grandee in his light
tweeds, Panama hat and curling black mustache, came
up the stairs three at a time. He stopped at sight of
Hartley and looked foolish.
*'Go back," said Hartley, firmly, pointing downstairs
with his forefinger.
"Hullo!" said Townsend, feigning surprise. "What's
up ? What are you doing here, old man ? "
"Go back," repeated Hartley, inflexibly. ''The Law
of the Jungle. Do you want the Pack to tear you in
pieces? The kill is mine."
"I came here to see a plumber about the bathroom
connections," said Townsend, bravely.
"All right," said Hartley. "You shall have that lying
plaster to stick upon your traitorous soul. But, go back."
Townsend went downstairs, leaving a bitter word to
be wafted up the draught of the staircase. Hartley went
back to his wooing.
"Vivienne," said he, masterfully. "I have got t&
have you. I will take no more refusals or dilly-dallying. *
"When do you want me?" she asked.
"Now. As soon as you can get ready."
She stood calmly before him and looked him in the
"Do you think for one moment," she said, "that
I would enter your home while Heloise is there?"
Hartley cringed as if from an unexpected blow. He
folded his arms and paced the carpet once or twice.
"She shall go," he declared grimly. Drops stood upon
his brow. "Why should I let that woman make my
life miserable? Never have I seen one day of freedom
from trouble since I have known her. You are right,
Vivienne. Heloise must be sent away before I can take
you home. But she shall go. I have decided. I will
turn her from my doors."
" When will you do this ?" asked the girl.
Hartley clinched his teeth and bent his brows together.
"To-night," he said, resolutely. "I will send her
"Then," said Vivienne, <4 my answer is 'yes.' Come
tot me when you will."
She looked into his eyes with a sweet, sincere light in
her own. Hartley could scarcely believe that her sur-
render was true, it was so swift and complete.
"Promise me," he said feelingly, "on your word and
"On my word and honour," repeated Vivienne, softly.
At the door he turned and gazed at her happily, but
yet as one who scarcely trusts the foundations of his joy.
"To-morrow," he said, with a forefinger of reminder
"To-morrow," she repeated with a smile of truth and
In an hour and forty minutes Hartley stepped off the
train at Floralhurst. A brisk walk of ten minutes brought
him to the gate of a handsome two-story cottage set upon
a wide and well-tended lawn. Halfway to the house he
was met by a woman with jet-black braided hair and
flowing white summer gown, who half strangled him
without apparent cause.
When they stepped into the hall she said :
"Mamma's here. The auto is coming for her in half
an hour. She came to dinner, but there's no dinner."
"I've something to tell you," said Hartley. "I thought
to break it to you gently, but since your mother is here
we may as well out with it."
He stooped and whispered something at her ear.
His wife screamed. Her mother came running into
the hall. The dark-haired woman screamed again —
the joyful scream of a well-beloved and petted woman.
"Oh, mamma!" she cried ecstatically, "what do you
think? Vivienne is coming to cook for us! She is the
one that stayed with the Montgomerys a whole year.
And now, Billy, dear," she concluded, "you must go
right down into the kitchen and discharge Heloise. She
has been drunk again the whole day long."
SOCIOLOGY IN SERGE AND STRAW
1HE season of irresponsibility is at hand. Come,
let us twine round our brows wreaths of poison ivy (that
is for idiocy), and wander hand in hand with sociology
in the summer fields.
Likely as not the world is flat. The wise men have
tried to prove that it is round, with indifferent success.
They pointed out to us a ship going to sea, and bade us
observe that, at length, the convexity of the earth hid
fiom our view all but the vessel's topmast. But we
picked up a telescope and looked, and saw the decks
and hull again. Then the wise men said: "Oh, pshaw f
anyhow, the variation of the intersection of the equator
and the ecliptic proves it." We could not see this through
our telescope, so we remained silent. But it stands to
reason that, if the world were round, the queues of China-
men would stand straight up from their heads instead
of hanging down their backs, as travellers assure us they do.
Another hot-weather corroboration of the flat theory
is the fact that all of life, as we know it, moves in little,
unavailing circles. More justly than to anything else,
it can be likened to the game of baseball. Crack! we
hit the ball, and away we go. If we earn a run (in life
we call it success) we get back to the home plate and sit
upon a bench. If we are thrown out, we walk back to the
home plate — and sit upon a bench.
The circumnavigators of the alleged globe may
have sailed the rim of a watery circle back to the same
port again. The truly great return at the high tide of
their attainments to the simplicity of a child. The
billionaire sits down at his mahogany to his bowl of bread
and milk. When you reach the end of your career, just
take down the sign " Goal " and look at the other side of
it. You will find "Beginning Point" there. It has been
reversed while you were going around the track.
But this is humour, and must be stopped. Let us
get back to the serious questions that arise whenever
sociology turns summer boarder. You are invited to
consider the scene of the story — wild, Atlantic waves,
thundering against a wooded and rock-bound shore —
in the Greater City of New York.
The town of Fishampton, on the south shore of Long
Island, is noted for its clam fritters and the summer
residence of the Van Plushvelts.
The Van Plushvelts have a hundred million dollars,
and their name is a household word with tradesmen and
On the fifteenth of June the Van Plushvelts boarded
up the front door of their city house, carefully deposited
their cat on the sidewalk, instructed the caretaker not
to allow it to eat any of the ivy on the walls, and whizzed
away in a 40-horse-power to Fishampton to strav alone
Sociology in Serge and Straw 91
In the shade -Amaryllis not being in their class. If
you are a subscriber to the Toadies' Magazine, you have
often — You say you are not ? Well, you buy it at a
news-stand, thinking that the newsdealer is not wise to
you. But he knows about it all. HE knows — HE
knows! I say that you have often seen in the Toadies'
Magazine pictures of the Van Plushvelts' summer home;
so it will not be described here. Our business is with
young Haywood Van Plushvelt, sixteen years old, heir
to the century of millions, darling of the financial gods
and great grandson of Peter Van Plushvelt, former owner
of a particularly fine cabbage patch that has been ruined
by an intrusive lot of downtown skyscrapers.
One afternoon young Haywood Van Plushvelt strolled
out between the granite gate posts of " Dolce far Niente "
— that's what they called the place; and it was an improve-
ment on dolce Far Rockaway, I can tell you.
Haywood walked down into the village. He was
human, after all, and his prospective millions weighed
upon him. Wealth had wreaked upon him its direfullest.
He was the product of private tutors. Even under his
first hobby-horse had tan bark been strewn. He had
been born with a gold spoon, lobster fork and fish-set in
his mouth. For which I hope, later, to submit justification,
I must ask your consideration of his haberdashery and
Young Fortunatus was dressed in a neat suit of dark
blue serge, a neat, white straw hat, neat low-cut tan shoes,
linen of the well-known "immaculate" trade mark, a
neat, narrow four-in-hand tie, and carried a slender,
neat, bamboo cane.
yown Persimmon Street (there's never tree north oi
Hagerstown, Md.) came from the village "Smoky"
Dodson, fifteen and a half, worst boy in Fishampton.
"Smoky" was dressed in a ragged red sweater, wrecked
and weather-worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and trousers
of the "serviceable" brand. Dust, clinging to the mois-
ture induced by free exercise, darkened wide areas o
his face, " Smoky " carried a baseball bat, and a league
ball that advertised itself in the rotundity of his trousers
pocket. Haywood stopped and passed the time of day.
Going to play ball ? " he asked.
Smoky's" eyes and countenance confronted him
with a frank blue-and-freckled scrutiny.
"Me?" he said, with deadly mildness; "sure not.
Can't you see I've got a divin' suit on ? I'm goin' up in
a submarine balloon to catch butterflies with a two-inch
"Excuse me," said Haywood, with the insulting polite-
ness of his caste, " for mistaking you for a gentleman. I
might have known better."
"How might you have known better if you thought I
was one?" said "Smoky," unconsciously a logician.
"By your appearance," said Haywood. "No gentle-
man is dirty, ragged and a liar."
"Smoky" hooted once like a ferry-boat, spat on his
hand, got a firm grip on his baseball bat and then dropped
it against the fence.
Sociology in Serge and Straw 93
"Say/' said he, "I knows you. You're the pup that
belongs in that swell private summer sanitarium for city
guys over there. I seen you come out of the gate. You
can't bluff nobody because you're rich. And because
you got on swell clothes. * Arabella! Yah!"
"Ragamuffin!" said Haywood.
"Smoky" picked up a fence-rail splinter and laid it on
"Dare you to knock it off," he challenged.
I wouldn't soil my hands with you," said the aristocrat.
'Fraid," said "Smoky" concisely. "Youse city
ducks ain't got the sand. I kin lick you with one
"I don't wish to have any trouble with you," said
Haywood. "I asked you a civil question; and you replied
like a — like a — a cad."
"Wot's a cad?" asked "Smoky."
"A cad is a disagreeable person," answered Haywood,
"who lacks manners and doesn't know his place* They
sometimes play baseball."
"I can tell you what a mollycoddle is," said "Smoky."
"It's a monkey dressed up by its mother and sent out to
pick daisies on the lawn."
"When you have the honour to refer to the members
of my family," said Haywood, with some dim ideas
of a code in his mind, "you'd better leave the ladies out
of your remarks."
"Ho! ladies!" mocked the rude one. "I say ladies!
I know what them rich women in ,the citv does. They
drink cocktails and swear and give parties to gorilla*
The papers says so."
Then Haywood knew that it must be. He took ofi
his coat, folded it neatly and laid it on the roadside grass,
placed his hat upon it and began to unknot his blue silk
"Hadn't yer better ring fer yer maid, Arabella?"
taunted "Smoky." "Wot yer going to do — go to bed ?"
"I'm going to give you a good trouncing," said the
hero. He did not hesitate, although the enemy was far
beneath him socially. He remembered that his father
once thrashed a cabman, and the papers gave it two col-
umns, first page. And the Toadies' Magazine had a
special article on Upper Cuts by the Upper Classes, and
ran new pictures of the Van Plushvelt country seat, at
"Wot's trouncing?" asked "Smoky," suspiciously.
"I don't want your old clothes. I'm no — oh, you mean
to scrap! My, my! I won't do a thing to mamma's pet.
Criminy! I'd hate to be a hand-laundered thing iike
"Smoky" waited with some awkwardness for hi*
adversary to prepare for battle. His own decks Tvere
always clear for action. When he should spit upon the
palm of his terrible right it was equivalent to "You may
fire now, Gridley."
The hated patrician advanced, with his shirt sleeves
neatly rolled up. "Smoky" waited, in an attitude of
ease, expecting the affair to be conducted according to
Sociology in Serge and Straw 95
Fishampton's rules of war. These allowed combat
to be prefaced by stigma, recrimination, epithet, abuse
and insult gradually increasing in emphasis and degree.
After a round of these "you're anothers" would come the
chip knocked from the shoulder, or the advance across
the "dare" line drawn with a toe on the ground. Next
light taps given and taken, these also increasing in force
until finally the blood was up and fists going at their best.
But Haywood did not know Fishampton's rules.
Noblesse oblige kept a faint smile on his face as he walked
lowly up to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" quickly understood this to be a putting
• f the previous question, giving him the chance to make
* practical apology by answering it with civility and
"Listen this time," said he. "I'm goin* skatin' on
he river. Don't you see me automobile with Chinese
anterns on it standin' and waitin' for me?"
Kaywood knocked him down.
"Smoky" felt wronged. To thus deprive him of
preliminary wrangle and objurgation was to send an
armoured knight full tilt against a crashing lance without
permitting him first to caracole around the list to the
flourish of trumpets. But he scrambled up and fell upon
his foe, head, feet and fists.
The fight lasted one round of an hour and ten minutes.
It was lengthened until it was more like a war or a family
eud than a fight. Haywood had learned some of the
96 W nirligigo
science of boxing and wrestling from his tutors, but these
he discarded for the more instinctive methods of battle
handed down by the cave-dwelling Van Plushvelts.
So, when he found himself, during the mfclee, seated
upon the kicking and roaring "Smoky's" chest, he
improved the opportunity by vigorously kneading hand-
fuls of sand and soil into his adversary's ears, eyes and
mouth, and when "Smoky" got the proper leg hold and
"turned" him, he fastened both hands in the Plushvelt
hair and pounded the Plushvelt head against the lap of
mother earth. Of course, the strife was not incessantly
active. There were seasons when one sat upon the other,
holding him down, while each blew like a grampus, spat
out the more inconveniently large sections of gravel and
earth, and strove to subdue the spirit of his opponent
with a frightful and soul-paralyzing glare.
At last, it seemed that in the language of the ring, their
efforts lacked steam. They broke away, and each
disappeared in a cloud as he brushed away the dust of
the conflict. As soon as his breath permitted, Haywood
walked close to "Smoky" and said:
"Going to play ball?"
"Smoky" looked pensively at the sky, at his bat lying
on the ground, and at the "leaguer" rounding his pocket.
"Sure," he said, off-handedly. "The ' Yellowjackets'
plays the 'Long Islands.' I'm cap'n of the 'Long
* I guess I didn't mean to say you were ragged," sakf
Haywood. " But you are dirty, you know."
Sociology in Serge and Straw 97
"Sure," said "Smoky." "Yer get that way knockin'
around. Say, I don't believe them New York papers
abeut ladies drinkin' and havin' monkeys dinin' at the
table with 'em. I guess they're lies, like they print
about people eatin' out of silver plates, and ownin' dogs
that cost $100."
"Certainly," said Haywood. "What do you play on
"Ketcher. Ever play any?"
' ' Never in my life," said Haywood. " I've never known
any fellows except one or two of my cousins."
"Jer like to learn? We're goin' to have a practice
game l>efore the match. Wanter come along? I'll put
yer in left-field, and yer won't be long ketchin on."
"I'd like it bully," said Haywood. "I've always
wanted to play baseball."
The ladies' maids of New York and the families of
Western mine owners with social ambitions will remember
well the sensation that was created by the report that the
young multi-millionaire, Haywood Van Plushvelt, was
playing ball with the village youths of Fishampton. It
was conceded that the millennium of democracy had
come. Reporters and photographers swarmed to the
island. The papers printed half-page pictures of him
as short-stop stopping a hot grounder. The Toadies 9
Magazine got out a Bat and Ball number that covered
the subject historically, beginning with the vampire bat
and ending with the Patriarchs' ball — illustrated with
interior views of the Van Plushvelt country seat.
Ministers, educators and sociologists everywhere hailed
the event as the tocsin call that proclaimed the universal
brotherhood of man.
One afternoon I was reclining under the trees near
the shore at Fishampton in the esteemed company of
an eminent, bald-headed young sociologist. By way
of note it may be inserted that all sociologists are more
or less bald, and exactly thirty-two. Look 'em over.
The sociologist was citing the Van Plushvelt case as
the most important "uplift" symptom of a generation,
and as an excuse for his own existence.
Immediately before us were the village baseball grounds.
And now came the sportive youth of Fishampton and
distributed themselves, shouting, about the diamond.
"There," said the sociologist, pointing, "there is young
I raised myself (so far a cosycophant with Mary Ann)
Young Van Plushvelt sat upon the ground. He was
dressed in a ragged red sweater, wrecked and weather-
worn golf cap, run-over shoes, and trousers of the "ser-
viceable" brand. Dust clinging to the moisture induced bv
free exercise, darkened wide areas of his face.
"That is he," repeated the sociologist. If he had said
"him" I could have been less vindictive.
On a bench, with an air, sat the young millionaire's
He was dressed in a neat suit of dark blue serge, a neat
white straw hat. neat low-cut tan shoes, linen of the
Sociology in Serge and Straw 99
well-known "immaculate" trade mark, a neat, narrow
four-in-hand tie, and carried a slender, neat bamboo
I laughed loudly and vulgarly.
f "What you want to do," said I to the sociologist, "is
to establish a reformatory for the Logical Vicious Circle.
Or else I've got wheels. It looks to me as if things are
running round and round in circles instead of getting
"What do you mean?" asked the man of progress.
"Why, look what he has done to "Smoky," I replied.
"You will always be a fool," said my friend, the sociolo-
gist, getting up and walking away.
THE RANSOM OF RED CHIEF
IT LOOKED like a good thing: but wait till I tell you.
We were down South, in Alabama — Bill Driscoll and myself
— when this kidnapping idea struck us. It was, as Bill
afterward expressed it, "during a moment of temporary
mental apparition"; but we didn't find that out till later.
There was a town down there, as flat as a flannel-cake,
and called Summit, of course. It contained inhabitants
of as undeleterious and self-satisfied a class of peasantry
as ever clustered around a Maypole.
Bill and me had a joint capital of about six hundred
dollars, and we needed just two thousand dollars more
to pull off a fraudulent town-lot scheme in Western
Illinois with. We talke4 it over on the front steps of the
hotel. Philoprogenitiveness, says we, is strong in semi-
rural communities; therefore, and for other reasons, a
kidnapping project ought to do better there than in the
radius of newspapers that send reporters out in plain
clothes to stir up talk about such things. We knew that
Summit couldn't get after us with anything stronger
than constables and, maybe, some lackadaisical blood-
hounds and a diatribe or two in the Weekly Farmers 9
Budget. So, it looked good.
The Ransom of Red Chief 10 i
We selected for our victim the only child of a prominent
citizen named Ebenezer Dorset. The father was respect-
able and tight, a mortgage fancier and a stern, upright
collection-plate passer and forecloser. The kid was a
boy of ten, with bas-relief freckles, and hair the colour of
the cover of the magazine you buy at the news-stand
when you want to catch a train. Bill and me figured
that Ebenezer would melt down for a ransom of two
thousand dollars to a cent. But wait till I tell you.
About two miles from Summit was a little mountain,
covered with a dense cedar brake. On the rear elevation
of this mountain was a cave. There we stored provisions.
One evening after sundown, we drove in a buggy past
old Dorset's house. The kid was in the street, throw-
ing rocks at a kitten on the opposite fence.
"Hey, little boy!" says Bill, "would you like. to have
a bag of candy and a nice ride ?"
The boy catches Bill neatly in the eye with a piece of
"That will cost the old man an extra five hundred
dollars," says Bill, climbing over the wheel.
That boy put up a fight like a welter-weight cinnamon
bear; but, at last, we got him down in the bottom of the
buggy and drove away. We took him up to the cave, and
I hitched the horse in the cedar brake. After dark I
drove the buggy to the little village, three miles away,
where we had hired it, and walked back to the moun-
9 Bill was pasting court-plastef over the scratches arid
bruises on his features. There was a fire burning behind
the big rock at the entrance of the cave, and the boy was
watching a pot of boiling coffee, with two buzzard tail-
feathers stuck in his red hair. He points a stick at me
when I come up, and says:
"Ha! cursed paleface, do you dare to enter the camp of
Red Chief, the terror of the plains? "
"He's all right now," says Bill, rolling up his trousers
and examining some bruises on his shins. "We're
playing Indian. We're making Buffalo Bill's show look
like magic-lantern views of Palestine in the town halL
I'm Old Hank, the Trapper, Red Chief's captive, and I'm
to be scalped at daybreak. By Geronimo! that kid can
Yes, sir, that boy seemed to be having the time of his
life. The fun of camping out in a cave had made him
forget that he was a captive himself. He immediately
christened me Snake-eye, the Spy, and announced that,
when his braves returned from the warpath, I was to be
broiled at the stake at the rising of the sun.
Then we had supper; and he filled his mouth full of
bacon and bread and gravy, and began to talk. He made
a during-dinner speech something like this:
"I like this fine. I never camped out before; but I
had a pet 'possum once, and I was nine last birthday.
I hate to go to school. Rats ate up sixteen of Jimmy
Talbot's aunt's speckled hen's eggs. Are there any
real Indians in these woods? I want some more gravy.
Does the trees moving make the wind blow? We had
The Hansom of Red Chief 103
five puppies. What makes your nose so red, Hank?
My father has lots of money* Are the stars hot? I
whipped Ed Walker twice, Saturday. I don't like girls.
You dassent catch toads unless with a string. Do oxen
make any noise? Why are oranges round? Have you
got beds to sleep on in this cave? Amos Murray has got
six toes. A parrot can talk, but a monkey or a fish can't.
How many does it take to make twelve? "
Every few minutes he would remember that he was
a pesky redskin, and pick up his stick rifle and tiptoe to
the mouth of the cave to rubber for the scouts of the
hated paleface. Now and then he would let out a war-
whoop that made Old Hank the Trapper shiver. That
boy had Bill terrorized from the start.
"Red Chief," says I to the kid, "would you like to go
"Aw, what for?" says he. "I don't have any fun at
home. I hate to go to school. I like to camp out. You
won't take me back home again, Snake-eye, will you?"
"Not right away," says I "We'll stay here in the
cave a while."
"All right!" says he. "That'll be fine. I never had
such fun in all my life."
We went to bed about eleven o'clock. We spread down
some wide blankets and quilts end put Red Chief between
us. We weren't afraid he'd run away. He kept us
awake for three hours, jumping up and reaching for his
rifle and screeching: "Hist! pard," in mine and Bill's
ears, as the fancied crackle of a twig or the rustle of a
leaf revealed to his young imagination the stealth;
approach of the outlaw band. At last, I fell into a
troubled sleep, and dreamed that I had been kidnapped
and chained to a tree by a ferocious pirate with red hair.
Just at daybreak, I was awakened by a series of awful
screams from Bill. They weren't yells, or howls, or
shouts, or whoops, or yawps, such as you'd expect from
a manly set of vocal organs — they were simply indecent,
terrifying, humiliating screams, such as women emit
when they see ghosts or caterpillars. It's an awful thing
to hear a strong, desperate, fat man scream incc ntinently
in a cave at daybreak.
I jumped up to see what the matter was. Red Chief
was sitting on Bill's chest, with one hand twined in Bill's
hair. In the other he had the sharp case-knife we used
for slicing bacon; and he was industriously and realistically
trying to take Bill's scalp, according to the sentence that
had been pronounced upon him the evening before.
I got the knife away from the kid and made him lie
down again. But, from that moment, Bill's spirit wa?
broken, rte laid down on his side of the bed, but he neve-
closed an eye again in sleep as long as that boy was with us
I dozed off for a while, but along toward sun-up I remem
bered that Red Chief had said I was to be burned at the
stake at the rising of the sun. I wasn't nervous or afraid;
but I sat up and lit my pipe and leaned against a rock.
What you getting up so soon for, Sam ? " asked Bill.
Me?" says I. "Oh, I got a kind of e pain in
my shoulder. I thought sitting up would rest it."
The Ransom of Red Chief 105
"You're a liar!" says Bill. "You're afraid. You
was to be burned at sunrise, and you was afraid he'd
do it. And he would, too, if he could find a match.
Ain't it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay
out money to get a little imp like that back home?" .
" Sure," said I. " A rowdy kid like that is just the kind
that parents dote on. Now, you and the Chief get up and
cook breakfast, while I go up on the top of this mountain
I went up on the peak of the little mountain and ran my
eye over the contiguous vicinity. Over toward Summit I
expected to see the sturdy yeomanry of the village armed
with scythes and pitchforks beating the countryside for
the dastardly kidnappers. But what I saw was a peaceful
landscape dotted with one man ploughing with a dun
mule. Nobody was dragging the creek; no couriers
dashed hither and yon, bringing tidings of no news to the
distracted parents. There was a sylvan attitude of
somnolent sleepiness pervading that section of the external
outward surface of Alabama that lay exposed to my view.
" Perhaps," says I to myself, " it has not yet been discov-
ered that the wolves have borne away the tender lambkin
from the fold. Heaven help the wolves!" says I, and I
went down the mountain to breakfast.
When I got to the cave I found Bill backed up against
the side of it, breathing hard, and the boy threatening
to smash him with a rock half as big as a cocoanut.
" He put a red-hot boiled . potato down my back,"
explained Bill, "and then mashed it with his foot; and
I boxed his ears. Have you got a gun about you,
I took the rock away from the boy and kind of patched
up the argument. "I'll fix you," says the kid to Bill.
" No man ever yet struck the Red Chief but what he got
paid for it. You better beware!"
After breakfast the kid takes a piece of leather with
strings wrapped around it out of his pocket and goes out-
side the cave unwinding it.
"What's he up to now?" says Bill, anxiously. "You
don't think he'll run away, do you, Sam?"
" No fear of it," says I. "He don't seem to be much of
a home body. But we've got to fix up some plan about the
ransom. There don't seem to be much excitement around
Summit on account of his disappearance; but maybe
they haven't realized yet that he's gone. His folks
may think he's spending the night with Aunt Jane or on**
of the neighbours. Anyhow, he'll be missed to-day.
To-night we must get a message to his father demanding
the two thousand dollars for his return."
Just then we heard a kind of war-wl\oop, such as David
might have emitted when he knocked out the champion
Goliath. It was a sling that Red Chief had pulled out
of his pocket, and he was whirling it around his head.
I dodged, and heard a heavy thud and a kind of a sigh
from Bill, like a horse gives out when you take his saddle
off. A niggerhead rock the size of an egg had caught
Bill just behind his left ear. He loosened himself all over
and fell in the fire across the frying pan of hot water for
The Ransom of Red Chief 107
washing the dishes. I dragged him out and poured cold
water on his head for half an hour.
By and by, Bill sits up and feels behind his ear and
says: "Sam, do you know who my favourite Biblical
"Take it easy," says I. "You'll come to your senses
"King Herod," says he. "You won't go away and
'eave me here alone, will you, Sam?"
I went out and caught that boy and shook him until
his freckles rattled.
"If you don't behave," says I, "I'll take you straight
home. Now, are you going to be good, or not?"
"I was only funning," says he sullenly. "I didn't
mean to hurt Old Hank. But what did he hit me for?
I'll behave, Snake-eye, if you won't send me home, and
if you'll let me play the Black Scout to-day."
"I don't know the game," says I. "That's for you and
Mr. Bill to decide. He's your playmate for the day.
I'm going away for a while, on business. Now, you
come in and make friends with him and say you are
sorry for hurting him, or home you go, at once."
I made him and Bill shake hands, and then I took Bill
aside and told him I was going to Poplar Cove, a little
village three miles from the cave, and find out what I
could about how the kidnapping had been regarded in
Summit. Also, I thought it best to send a peremptory
letter to old man Dorset that day, demanding the ransom
and dictating how it should be paid
" You know, Sam," says Bill, " I've stood by you with-
out batting an eye in earthquakes, fire and flood — in
poker games, dynamite outrages, police raids, train
robberies and cyclones. I never lost my nerve yet till
we kidnapped that two-legged skyrocket of a kid. He's
got me going. You won't leave me long with him, will
" I'll be back some time this afternoon," says I. " You
must keep the boy amused and quiet till I return. And
now we'll write the letter to old Dorset."
Bill and I got paper and pencil and worked on the
letter while Red Chief, with a blanket wrapped around
him, strutted up and down, guarding the mouth of the
cave. Bill begged me tearfully to make the ransom
fifteen hundred dollars instead of two thousand. "I
ain't attempting," says he, '" to decry the celebrated moral
aspect of parental affection, but we're dealing with
humans, and it ain't human for anybody to give up two
thousand dollars for that fortj -pound chunk of freckled
wildcat. I'm willing to take a chance at fifteen hundred
dollars. You can charge the difference up to me."
So, to relieve Bill, I acceded, and we collaborated a
letter that ran this way:
Ebene&r Dorset, Esq.:
We have your boy concealed in a place far from Summit
It is useless for you or the most skilful detectives t3
attempt to find him. Absolutely, the only terms on
which you can have him restored to you are these: Wo
demand fifteen hundred dollars in large bills for his return;
The Ransom of Red Chief 109
the money to be left at midnight to-night at the same
spot and in the same box as your reply — as hereinafter
described. If you agree to these terms, send your answer
in writing by a solitary messenger to-night at half-past
eight o'clock. After crossing Owl Creek, on the road
lo Poplar Cove, there are three large trees about a hundred
yards apart, close to the fence of the wheat field on the
right-hand side. At the bottom of the fence-post, opposite
the third tree, will be found a small pasteboard box.
The messenger will place the answer in this box and
return immediately to Summit.
If you attempt any treachery or fail to comply with
our demand as stated, you will never see your boy again/
If you pay the money as demanded, he will be returned
to you safe and well within three hours. These terms
are final, and if you do not accede to them no further com-
munication will be attempted.
Two Desperate Men.
I addressed this letter to Dorset, and put it in my pocket.
As I was about to start, the kid comes up to me and says: *
" Aw, Snake-eye, you said I could play the Black Scout
while you was gone."
"May it, of course," says I. "Mr. Bill will play
with you. What kind of a game is it?"
"I'm the Black Scout," says Red Chief, "and I
have to ride to the stockade to warn the settlers that the
Indians are coming. I'm tired of playing Indian myself.
I want to be the Black Scout."
"AH right," says I. "It sounds harmless to me.
I guess Mr. Bill will help you foil the pesky
"What am I to do?" asks Bill, looking at the kid
"You are the hoss," says Black Scout. "Get down
on your hands and knees. How can I ride to the stockade
without a hoss ? "
"You'd better keep him interested," said I, "till we
get the scheme going. Loosen up."
Bill gets down on his all fours, and a look comes in
his eye like a rabbit's when you catch it in a trap.
" How far is it to the stockade, kid ? " he asks, in a husk?
manner of voice.
" Ninety miles," says the Black Scout. " And you have
to hump yourself to get there on time. Whoa, now!"
The Black Scout jumps on Bill's back and* digs his
heels in his side.
"For Heaven's sake," says Bill, "hurry back, Sam,
as soon as you can. I wish we hadn't made the ransom
, more than a thousand. Say, you quit kicking me or I'll
get up and warm you good."
I walked over to Poplar Cove and sat around the post-
office and store, talking with the chawbacons that came
in to trade. One whiskerando says that he hears Summit
is all upset on account of Elder Ebenezer Dorset's bo,
having been lost or stolen. That was all I wanted to know.
I bought some smoking tobacco, referred casually to the
price of black-eyed peas, posted my letter surreptitiously
and came away. The postmaster said the mail-carrier
would come by in an hour to take the mail on to Summit.
When I got back to the cave Bill and the boy were not
The Ransom of Red Chief 111
to be found. I explored the vicinity of the cave, and risked
a yodel or two, but there v as no response.
So 1 lighted my pipe and sat down on a mossy bank to
In about half an hour I heard the bushes rustle, and
Bill wabbled out into the little glade in front of the cave
Behind him was the kid, stepping softly like a scout, with
ft broad grin on his face. Bill stopped, took off his hat
and wiped his face with a red handkerchief. The kid
stopped about eight feet behind him. .
" Sam," says Bill, " I suppose you'll think I'm a rene-
gade, but I couldn't help it. I'm a grown person with
masculine proclivities and habits of self-defense, but there
is a time when all systems of egotism and predominance
*Vul. The boy is gone. I have sent him home. All
\s off. There was martyrs in old times," goes on Bill,
"that suffered death rather than give up the particular
graft they enjoyed. None of 'em ever was subjugated
to such supernatural tortures as I have been. I tried to
be faithful to our articles of depredation; but there came
What's the trouble, Bill ? " I asks him.
I was rode," says Bill, "the ninety miles to the stockade,
not barring an inch. Then, when the settlers was rescued t
I was given oats. Sand ain't a palatable substitute.
And then, for an hour I had to try to explain to him
why there was nothin* in holes, how a road can run both
ways and what makes the grass green. I tell you, Sam,
d human can only stand so much. I takes him by the
neck of his clothes and drags him down the mountain.
On the way he kicks my legs black-and-blue from the
knees down; and I've got to have two or three bites on my
thumb and hand cauterized.
"But he's gone" — continues Bill — "gone home. I
showed him the road to Summit and kicked him about
eight feet nearer there at one kick. I'm sorry we lose the
ransom; but it was either that or Bill Driscoll to the
Bill is puffing and blowing, but there is a look of in-
effable peace and growing content on his rose-pink features.
"Bill," says I, "there isn't any heart disease in your
family, is there?"
"No," says Bill, "nothing chronic except malaria and
"Then you might turn around," says I, "and have a
look behind you."
Bill turns and sees the boy, and loses his complexion
and sits down plump on the ground and begins to pluck
aimlessly at grass and little sticks. For an hour I was
afraid of his mind. And then I told him that my scheme
was to put the whole job through immediately and that
we would get the ransom and be off with it by midnight
if old Dorset fell in with our proposition. So Bill braced
up enough to give the kid a weak sort of a smile and a
promise to play the Russian m a Japanese war with him
as soon as he felt a little better.
I had a scheme for collecting that ransom without
danger of being caught by counterplots that ought to
The Ransom of Red Chief 118
jommend itself to professional kidnappers The tree
under which the answer was to be left — and the
money later on — was close to the road fence with big,
bare fields on all sides. If a gang of constables should be
watching for any one to come for the note they could see
him a long way off crossing the fields or in the road. But
no, sirreel At half -past eight I was up in that tree as well
hidden as a tree toad, waiting for the messenger to arrive.
Exactly on time, a half -grown boy rides up the road on
a bicycle, locates the pasteboard box at the foot of the
fence-post, slips a folded piece of paper into it and pedals
away again back toward Summit.
I waited an hour and then concluded the thing was
square. I slid down the tree, got the note, slipped along
the fence till I struck the woods, and was back at the cave
in another half an hour. I opened the note, got near the
lantern and read it to Bill. It was written with a pen in a
crabbed hand, and the sum and substance of it was this:
Two Desperate Men.
Gentlemen: I received your letter to-day by post,
in regard to the ransom you ask for the return of my son.
I think you are a little high in your demands, and I hereby
make you a counter-proposition, which I am inclined to
believe you will accept. You bring Johnny home and
pay me two hundred and fifty dollars in cash, and I agree
to take him off your hands. You had better come at
night, for the neighbours believe he is lost, and I couldn't
be responsible for what they would do to anybody they
saw bringing him back. Very respectfully,
"Great pirates of Penzance !" says I; "of all the
But I glanced at Bill, and hesitated. He had the most
appealing look in his eyes I ever saw on the face of a dumb
or a talking brute.
" Sam," says he, " what's two hundred and fifty dollars,
after all? We've got the money. One more night of
this kid will send me to a bed in Bedlam. Besides being
a thorough gentleman, I think Mr. Dorset is a spend-
thrift for making us suoh a liberal offer. You ain't going
to let the chance go, are you ? "
" Tell you the truth, Bill," says I, " this little he ewe
lamb has somewhat got on my nerves too. We'll take
him home, pay the ransom and make our get-away."
We took him home that night. We got him to go
by telling him that his father had bought a silver-mounted
rifle and a pair of moccasins for him, and we were going
to hunt bears the next day.
It was just twelve o'clock when we knocked at Ebene-
zer's front door. Just at the moment when I should have
been abstracting the fifteen hundred dollars from the box
under the tree, according to the original proposition, Bill
was counting out two hundred and fifty dollars int°
When the kid found out we were going to leave him at
home he started up a howl like a calliope and fastened
himself as tight as a leech to Bill's leg. His father peeled
him away gradually, like a porous plaster.
" How long can you hold him ? " asks BUI.
The Ransom of Red Chief 115
"I'm not as strong as I used to be," says old Dorset,
"but I think I can promise you ten minutes."
"Enough," says Bill. "In ten minutes I shall cross
the Central, Southern and Middle Western States, and be
legging it trippingly for the Canadian border."
And, as dark as it was, and as fat as Bill was, and as
good a runner as I am, he was a good mile and a half
out of Summit before I could catchi up with him.
THE MARRY MONTH OF MAY
PRITHEE, smite the poet in the eye when he wouk
sing to you praises of the month of May. It is a monti
presided over by the spirits of mischief and madness.
Pixies and flibbertigibbets haunt the budding woods
Puck and his train of midgets are busy in town ad
In May nature holds up at us a chiding finger, bidding
us remember that we are not gods, but overconceitec
members of her own great family. She reminds us thai
we are brothers to the chowder-doomed clam and the
donkey; lineal scions of the pansy and the chimpanzet.
and but cousins-german to the cooing doves, the quacking
ducks and the housemaids and policemen in the parks.
In May Cupid shoots blindfolded — millionaires many
stenographers; wise professors woo white-aproned gum-
chewers behind quick- lunch counters; schoolma'ami
make big bad boys remain after school; lads with ladder*
steal lightly over lawns where Juliet waits in her trellissec
window with her telescope packed; young couples ou:
for a walk come home married; old chaps put on whit?
spats and promenade near the Normal School; eves
married men, grown unwontedly tender and sentimental
The Marry Month of May 117
whack their spouses on the back and growl: "How goes
it, old girl ?"
This May. who is no goddess, but Circe, masquerading
at the dance given in honour of the fair debutante. Sum-
mer, puts the kibosh on us all.
Old Mr. Coulson groaned a little, and then sat up
straight in his invalid's chair. He had the gout very
bad in one foot, a house near Gramercy Park, half a
million dollars and a daughter. And he had a house-
keeper. Mrs. Widdup. TJie fact and the name deserve
a sentence each. They have it.
When May poked Mr. Coulson he became elder brother
to the turtle-dove. In the window near which he sat
were boxes of jonquils, of hyacinths, geraniums and
pansies. The breeze brought their odour into the room.
Immediately there was a well-contested round between
the breath of the flowers and the able and active effluvium
from gout liniment. The liniment won easily; but not
before the flowers got an uppercut to old Mr. Coulson 's
nose. The deadly work of the implacable, false enchant-
ress May was done.
Across the park to the olfactories of Mr. Coulson came
other unmistakable, characteristic, copyrighted smells
of spring that belong to the-big-city-above-the-Subway,
alone. The smells of hot asphalt, underground caverns,
gasoline, patchouli, orange peel, sewer gas, Albany grabs,
Egyptian cigarettes, mortar and the undried ink on news-
papers. The inblowing air was sweet and mild. Sparrows
wrangled happily everywhere outdoors. Never trust May,
1 18 Whirligigs
Mr. Coulson twisted the ends of his white mustache,
cursed his foot, and pounded a bell on the table by his
In came Mrs. Widdup. She was comely to the eye,
fair, flustered, forty and foxy.
"Higgins is out, sir," she said, with a smile suggestive
of vibratory massage. "He went to post a letter. Can
I do anything for you, sir ? "
"It's time for my aconite," said old Mr. Coulson.
"Drop it for me. The bqttle's there. Three drops.
In water. D — that is, confound Higgins ! There's
nobody in this house cares if I die here in this chair for
want of attention."
Mrs. Widdup sighed deeply.
"Don't be saying that, sir," she said. "There's them
that would care more than any one knows. Thirteen
drops, you said, sir?"
"Three," said old man Coulson.
He took his dose and then Mrs. Widdup's hand. She
blushed. Oh, yes, it can be done. Just hold your
breath and compress the diaphragm.
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, "the springtime's
full upon us."
"Ain't that right?" said Mrs. Widdup. "The air's
real warm. And there's bock-beer signs on every corner.
And the park's all yaller and pink and blue with flowers;
and I have such shooting pains up my legs and
In the spring,'" quoted Mr. Coulson, curling his
The Marry Month of May 119
mustache, "'a y — that is, a man's — fancy lightly turns
to thoughts of love.' "
"Lawsy, now!" exclaimed Mrs. Widdup; "ain't that
right? Seems like it's in the air."
"'In the spring,'" continued old Mr. Coulson, "'a
livelier iris shines upon the burnished dove.'"
"They do be lively, the Irish," sighed Mrs. Widdup
"Mrs. Widdup," said Mr. Coulson, making a face at
a twinge of his gouty foot, "this would be a lonesome
house without you.. I'm an — that is, I'm an elderly
man — but I'm worth a comfortable lot of money. If
half a million dollars' worth of Government bonds and
the true affection of a heart that, though no longer beating
with the first ardour of youth, can still throb with
The loud noise of an overturned chair near the portiferes
of the adjoining room interrupted the venerable and
scarcely suspecting victim of May.
In stalked Miss Van Meeker Constantia Coulson, bony,
durable, tall, high-nosed, frigid, well-bred, thirty-five,
in-the-neighbourhood-of-Gramercy-Parkish. She put up
a lorgnette. Mrs. Widdup hastily stooped and arranged
the bandages on Mr. Coulson's gouty foot.
"I thought Higgins was with you," said Miss Van
"Higgins went out," explained her father, "and Mrs.
Widdup answered the bell. That is better now, Mrs.
Widdup, thank you. No; there is nothing else I require."
The housekeeper retired, pink under the cool, inquiring
stare of Miss Coulson.
"This spring weather is lovely, isn't it, daughter?"
said the old man, consciously conscious.
"That's just it," replied Miss Van Meeker Constantia
Coulson, somewhat obscurely. "When does Mrs. Wid-
dup start on her vacation, papa?"
"I believe she said a week from to-day," said Mr.
Miss Van Meeker Constantia stood for a minute at
the window gazing toward the little park, flooded with
the mellow afternoon sunlight. With the eye of a botanist
she viewed the flowers — most potent weapons of insid-
ious May. With the cool pulses of a virgin of Cologne
she withstood the attack of the ethereal mildness. The
arrows of the pleasant sunshine fell back, frostbitten,
from the cold panoply of her unthrilled bosom. The
odour of the flowers waked no soft sentiments in the
unexplored recesses of her dormant heart. The chirp of
the sparrows gave her a pain. She mocked at May.
But although Miss Coulson was proof against the
season, she was keen enough to estimate its power. She
knew that elderly men and thick-waisted women jumped
as educated fleas in the ridiculous train of May, the merry
mocker of the months. She had heard of foolish old
gentlemen marrying theii* housekeepers before. What a
humiliating thing, after all, was this feeling called
The next morniojr at 8 o'clock, when the iceman called*
The Marry Month of May 121
the cook told him that Miss Coulson wanted to see him
in the basement.
"Well, ain't I the Olcott and Depew; not mentioning
the first name at all?" said the iceman, admiringly, of
As a concession he rolled his sleeves down, dropped his
icehooks on a syringa and went back. When Miss Van
Meeker Constantia Coulson addressed him he took off
"There is a rear entrance tc this basement," said Miss
Coulson, "which can be reached by driving into the
vacant lot next door, where they are excavating for a
building. I want you to bring in that way within two
hours 1,000 pounds of ice. You may have to bring
another man or two to help you. I will show you where
I want it placed. I also want 1,000 pounds a day de-
livered the same way for the next four days. Your com-
pany may charge the ice on our regular bill. This is for
your extra trouble."
Miss Coulson tendered a ten-dollar bill. The iceman
bowed, and held his hat in his two hands behind him.
"Not if you'll excuse me, lady. It'll be a pleasure to
fix things up for you any way you please."
Alas for May!
About noon Mr. Coulson knocked two glasses off his
table, broke the spring of his bel, and yelled for Higgins
at the same time.
"Bring an axe," commanded Mr. Coulson, sardoni-
cally, "or send out for a quart of prussic acid, or have a
policeman come in and shoot me. I'd rather that than
be frozen to death."
"It does seem to be getting cool, sir," said Higgins.
"I hadn't noticed it before. I'll close the window, sir."
"Do," said Mr. Coulson. "They call this spring,
da they ? If it keeps up long I'll go back to Palm Beach.
House feels like a morgue."
Later Miss Coulson dutifully came in to inquire how
the gout was progressing.
" 'Stantia," said the old man, "how is the weather out-
doors ? "
"Bright," answered Miss Coulson, "but chilly. "
" Feels like the dead of winter to me," said Mr. Coulson.
"An instance," said Constantia, gazing abstractedly
out the window, "of 'winter lingering in the lap of spring,'
though the metaphor is not in the most refined taste."
A little later she walked down by the side of the little
park and on westward to Broadway to accomplish a
A little later than that Mrs. Widdup entered the invalid's
"Did you ring, sir?" she asked, dimpling in many
places. "I asked Higgins to go to the drug store, and I
thought I heard your bell."
"I did not," said Mr. Coulson.
"I'm afraid," said Mrs. Widdup, "I interrupted you
sir, yesterday when you were about to say something."
"How comes it, Mrs. Widdup," said old man Coulson
sternly, "that I find it so cold in this house V*
The Marry Month of May 128
"Cold, sir?" said the housekeeper, "why, now, since
/on speak of it it do seem cold in this room. But, out-
doors it's as warm and fine as June, sir. And how this
weather do seem to make one's heart jump out of one's
shirt waist, sir. And the ivy all leaved out on the side
of the house, and the hand-organs playing, and the
children dancing on the sidewalk — 'tis a great time for
speaking out what's in the heart. You were saying
yesterday, sir "
"Woman!" roared Mr. Coulson; "you are a fool. I
pay you to take care of this house. I am freezing to
death in my own room, and you come in and drivel to
me about ivy and hand-organs. Get me an overcoat at
once. See that all doors and windows are closed below,
.kn *>ld, fat, irresponsible, one-sided object like you prat-
ing about springtime and flowers in the middle of winter!
When Higgins comes back, tell him to bring me a hot rum
punch. And now get out!"
But who shall shame the bright face of May ? Rogue
though she be and disturber of sane men's peace, no wise
virgin's cunning nor cold storage shall make her bow her
head in the bright galaxy of months.
Oh, yes, the story was not quite finished.
A night passed, and Higgins helped old man Coulson
in the morning to his chair by the window. The cold of
the room was gone. Heavenly offours and fragrant mild-
In hurried Mrs. Widdup, and stood by his chair. Mr
Coulson reached his bony hand and grasped her plump one
"Mrs. Widdup," he said, "this house would be no
home without you. I have half a million dollars. If that
and the true affection of a heart no longer in its youthful
prime, but still not cold, could "
"I found out what made it cold," said Mrs. Widdup,
leaning against his chair. " 'Twas ice — tons of it —
in the basement and in the furnace room, everywhere. I
shut off the registers that it was coming through into your
room, Mr. Coulson, poor soul! And now it's Maytime
"A true heart," went on old man Coulson, a little
wanderingly, "that the springtime has brought to life
again, and — but what will my daughter say, Mrs.
"Never fear, sir," said Mrs. Widdup, cheerfully
"Miss Coulson, she ran away with the iceman last nigh;
A TECHNICAL ERROR
I NEVER cared especially for feuds, believing them
to be even more overrated products of our country than
grapefruit, scrapple, or honeymoons. Nevertheless, if
I may be allowed, I will tell you of an Indian Territory
feud of which I was press-agent, camp-follower, and
inaccessory during the fact.
I was on a visit to Sam Durkee's ranch, where I had a
great time falling off unmanicured ponies and waving
my bare hand at the lower jaws of wolves about two
miles away. Sam was a hardened person of about twenty-
five, with a reputation for going home in the dark with
perfect equanimity, though often with reluctance.
Over in the Creek Nation was a family bearing the
name of Tatum. I was told that the Durkees and Tatums
had been feuding for years. Several of each family had
bitten the grass, and it was expected that more Nebuchad-
nezzars would follow. A younger generation of each family
was growing up, and the grass was keeping pace with them.
But I gathered that they had fought fairly; that they had
not lain in cornfields and aimed at the division of then
enemies' suspenders in the back — partly, perhaps,
because there were no cornfields, and nobody wore more
than one suspender. Nor had any woman or child oi
either house ever been harmed. In those days — and
you will find it so yet — their women were safe.
• Sam Durkee had a girl. (If it were an all-fiction
magazine that I expect to sell this story to, I should say,
"Mr. Durkee rejoiced in a fiancee.") Her name wai
Ella Baynes. They appeared to be devoted to each
other, and to have perfect confidence in each other, a& all
couples do who are and have or aren't and haven't. She
was tolerably pretty, with a heavy mass of brown haL<
that helped her along. He introduced me to her, which
seemed not to lessen her preference for him; so I reasoned
that they were surely soul-mates.
Miss Baynes lived in Kingfisher, twenty miles from
the ranch. Sam lived on a gallop between the two places.
One day there came to Kingfisher a courageous young
man, rather small, with smooth face and regular features.
He made many inquiries about the business of the town,
and especially of the inhabitants cognominally. He
said_he was from Muscogee, and he looked it, with his
yellow shoes and crocheted four-in-hand. I met him
once when I rode in for the mail. He said his name was
Beverly Travers, which seemed rather improbable.
There were active times on the ranch, just then, and
Sam was too busy to go to town often. As an incom-
petent and generally worthless guest, it devolved upon
me to ride in for little things such as post cards, barrels
of flour, baking-powder, smoking-tobacco, and — letters
A Technical Error 127
One day, when I was messenger for half a gross of
cigarette papers and a couple of wagon tires, I saw the
alleged Beverly Travers in a yellow-wheeled buggr with
Ella Baynes, driving about town as ostentatiously as the
black, waxy mud would permit. I knew that this infor-
mation would bring no balm of Gilead to Sam's soul, so
I refrained from including it in the news of the city that
I retailed on my return. But on the next afternoon an
elongated ex-cowboy of the name of Simmons, an old-
time pal of Sam's, who kept a feed store in Kingfisher,
rode out to the ranch and rolled and burned many cigar-
ettes before he would talk. When he did make oration,
his words were these:
"Say, Sam, there's been a description of a galoot
miscallin' himself Bevel-edged Travels impairing the
atmospheric air of Kingfisher for the past two weeks.
You know who he was? He was not otherwise than
Ben Tatum, from the Creek Nation, son of old Gopher
Tatum that your Uncle Newt shot last February. You
know what he done this morning ? He killed your brother
Lester — shot him in the co't-house yard/*
I wondered if Sam had heard. He pulled a twig from
a mesquite bush, chewed it gravely, and said :
"He did, did he? He killed Lester?"
"The same," said Simmons. "And he did more.
He run away with your girl, the same as to say Miss Ella
Baynes. I thought you might like to know, so I rode
out to impart the information."
"I am much obliged, Jim," said Sam, taking the
chewed twig from his mouth. "Yes, I'm glad you rode
out. Yes, I'm right glad."
"Well, I'll be ridin' back, I reckon. That boy I left
in the feed store don't know hay from oats. He shot
Lester in the back."
"Shot him in the back?"
"Yes, while he was hitchin' his hoss."
"I'm much obliged, Jim."
"I kind of thought you'd like to know as soon as you
"Come in and have some coffee before you ride back,
"Why, no, I reckon not; I must get back to the
"And you say — "
"Yes, Sam. Everybody seen 'em drive away together
in a buckboard, with a big bundle, like clothes, tied up
in the back of it. He was drivin' the team he brought
over with him from Muscogee. They'll be hard to over-
take right away."
"And which "
"I was goin' on to tell you. They left on the Guthrie
road; but there's no tellin' which forks they'll take —
you know that "
"All right Jim; much obliged."
"You're welcome, Sam."
Simmons rolled a cigarette and stabbed his pony
with both heels. Twenty yards away he reined up and
A Technical Error 129
"You don't want no — assistance, as you might say?"
"Not any, thanks."
" I didn't think you would. Well, so long!"
Sam took out and opened a bone-handled pocket-knife
and scraped a dried piece of mud from his left boot. I
thought at first he was, going to swear a vendetta on the
blade of it, or recite "The Gipsy's Curse." The few
feuds I had ever seen or read about usually opened that
way. This one seemed to be presented with a new treat-
ment. Thus' offered on the stage, it would have been
hissed off, and one of Belasco's thrilling melodramas
"I wonder," said Sam, with a profoundly thoughtful
expression, "if the cook has any cold beans left over!"
He called Wash, the Negro cook, and finding that he
had some, ordered him to heat up the pot and make some
strong coffee. Then we went into Sam's private room,
where he slept, and kept his armoury, dogs, and the sad-
dles of his favourite mounts. He took three or four six-
shooters out of a bookcase and began to look them over,
whistling "The Cowboy's Lament" abstractedly. After-
ward he ordered the two best horses on the ranch saddled
and tied to the hitching-post.
Now, in the feud business, in all sections of the country,
I have observed that in one particular there is a delicate
but strict etiquette belonging. You must not mention
the word or refer to the subject in the presence of a feudist.
It would be more reprehensible than commenting upon
the mole on the chin of your rich aunt. I found, later oa I
that there is another unwritten rule, but I think tk
belongs solely to the West.
It yet lacked two hours to supper-time; but in twenty
minutes Sam and I were plunging deep into the reheatec
beans, hot coffee, and cold beef.
"Nothing like a good meal before a long ride," sail
Sam. "Eat hearty.' '
I had a sudden suspicion.
"Why did you have two horses saddled ?" I asked.
"One, two — one, two," said Sam. "You can count
His mathematics carried with it a momentary qualm
and a lesson. The thought had not occurred to him that
the thought could possibly occur to me not to ride at
his side on that red road to revenge and justice. It was
the higher calculus. I was booked for the trail. I began
to eat more beans.
In an hour we set forth at a steady gallop eastward.
Our horses were Kentucky-bred, strengthened by tk
mesquite grass of the west. Ben Tatum's steeds may
have been swifter, and he had a good lead; but if he had
heard the punctual thuds of the hoofs of those trailers of
ours, born in the heart of feudland, he might have felt
that retribution was creeping up on the hoof -prints of
his dapper nags.
I knew that Ben Tatum's card to play was flight -
flight until he came within the safer territory of his own
henchmen and supporters. He knew that the man pur-
A Technical Error 131
suing him would follow the trail to any end where it
During the ride Sam talked of the prospect for rain,
of the price of beef, and of the musical glasses. You
would have thought he had never had a brother or a
sweetheart or an enemy on earth. There are some sub*
jects too big even for the words in the "Unabridged."
Knowing this phase of the feud code, but not having
practised it sufficiently, I overdid the thing by telling some
slightly funny anecdotes. Sam laughed at exactly the
right place — laughed with his mouth. When I caught
sight of his mouth, I wished I had been blessed with
enough sense of humour to have suppressed those
Our first sight of them we had in Guthrie. Tired and
hungry, we stumbled, unwashed, into a little yellow-pine
hotel and sat at a table. In the opposite corner we saw
the fugitives. They were bent upon their meal, but
looked around at times uneasily.
The girl was dressed in brown — one of these smooth,
half-shiny, silky-looking affairs with lace collar and cuffs,
and what I believe they call an accordion-plaited skirt.
She wore a thick brown veil down to her nose, and a
broad-brimmed straw hat with some kind of feathers
adorning it. The man wore plain, dark clothes, and his
hair was trimmed very short. He was such a man as you
might see anywhere.
There they were — the murderer and the woman he
had stolen. There we were — the rightful avenger,
according to the code, and the supernumerary who write
For one time, at least, in the heart of the supernumeran
there rose the killing instinct. For one moment he joinec
the force of combatants — orally.
"What are you waiting for, Sam?" I said in a whisper
"Let him have it now!"
Sam gave a melancholy sigh.
"You don't understand; but he does," he said. "Rt
knows. Mr. Tenderfoot, there's a rule out hare anion;
:vhite men in the Nation that you can't shoot a man wb«
he's with a woman. I never knew it to be broke yet
You carCt do it. You've got to get him in a gang of me
or by himself. That's why. He knows it, too. Tfc
all know. So, that's Mr. Ben Tatum! One of the
'pretty men'! I'll cut him out of the herd before they
leave the hotel, and regulate his account!"
After supper the flying pair disappeared quickly.
Although Sam haunted lobby and stairway and halls half
the night, in some mysterious way the fugitives eiudtii
him; and in the morning the veiled lady in the brown
dress with the accordion-plaited skirt and the dapper
young man with the close-clipped hair, and the buckboani
with the prancing nags, were gone.
It is a monotonous story, that of the ride; so it shaD be
curtailed. Once again we overtook them on a road. Tft
were about fifty yards behind. They turned in tk
buckboard and looked at us; thrn drove on withoi''
A Technical Error 133
whipping up their horses. Their safety no longer lay
in speed. Ben Tatum knew. He knew that the only
rock of safety left to him was the code. There is no
doubt that, had he been alone, the matter would have been
settled quickly with Sam Durkee in the usual way;
but he had something at Ais side that kept still the
trigger-finger of both. It seemed likely that he was
So, you may perceive that woman, on occasions, may
postpone instead of precipitating conflict between man
and man. But not willingly or consciously. She is
oblivious of codes.
Five miles father, we came upon the future great
Western city of Chandler. The horses of pursuers and
pursued were starved and weary. There was one hotel
that offered danger to man and entertainment to beast;
so the four of us met again in the dining room at the
ringing of a bell so resonant and large that it had cracked
the welkin long ago. The dining room was not as large
as the one at Guthrie.
Just as we were eating apple pie — how Ben Davises
and tragedy impinge upon each o*Her! — I noticed Sam
looking with keen intentness at our quarry where they
were seated at a table across the room. The girl still
wore the brown dress with lace collar and cuffs, and the
veil drawn down to her nose. The man bent over his
plate, with his close cropped head held low.
"There's a code," I heard Sam say, either to me or to
himself, " that won't let you shoot a man in the company
of a woman; but, by thunder, there ain't one to keep you
from killing a woman in the company of a man!"
And, quicker than my mind could follow his argument,
he whipped a Colt's automatic from under his left arm
and pumped six bullets into the body that the brown
dress covered — the brown dress with the lace collar and
cuffs and the accordion-plaited skirt.
The young person in the dark sack suit, from whose
head and from whose life a woman's glory had been
clipped, laid her head on her arms stretched upon the
table; while people came running to raise Ben Tatum
from the floor in his feminine masquerade that had given
Sam the opportunity to set aside, technically, the obliga-
tions of the code.
SUITE HOMES AND THEIR ROMANCE
FEW young couples in the Big-City-of-Bluff began
their married existence with greater promise of happiness
than did Mr. and Mrs. Claude Turpin. They felt no
especial animosity toward each other; they were comfort-
ably established in a handsome apartment house that
had a name and accommodations like those of a sleeping-
car; they were living as expensively as the couple on
the next floor above who had twice their income;
and their marriage had occurred on a wager, a ferry-
boat and first acquaintance, thus securing a
sensational newspaper notice with their names attached
to pictures of the Queen of Roumania and M. Santos-
Turpin's income was $200 per month. On pay day,
after calculating the amounts due for rent, instalments
on furniture and piano, gas, and bills owed to the florist,
confectioner, milliner, tailor, wine merchant and cab
company, the Turpins would find that they still had $200
left to spend. How to do this is one of the secrets of
The domestic life of the Turpins was a beautiful picture
to see. But you couldn't gaze upon it as you could
at an oleograph of "Don't Wake Grandma," or ''Brook-
lyn by Moonlight"
You had to blink when you looked at it; and you heard
a fizzing sound just like the machine with a "scope" at
the end of it. Yes; there wasn't much repose about the
picture of the Turpins' domestic life. It was something
like "Spearing Salmon in the Columbia River," or "Jap-
anese Artillery in Action."
Every day was just like another; as the days are in
New York. In the morning Turpin would take bromo-
seltzer, his pocket change from under the clock, his hat,
no breakfast and his departure for the office. At noon
iVIrs. Turpin would get out of bed and humour, put on
a kimono, airs, and the water to boil for coffee.
Turpin lunched downtown. He came home at 6
to dress for dinner. They always dined out. They
strayed from the chop-house to chop-sueydom, from
terrace to table d'hdte, from rathskeller to roadhouse,
from cafe to casino, from Maria's to the Martha Wash-
ington. Such is domestic life in the great city. Your
vine is the mistletoe; your fig tree bears dates. Your
household gods are Mercury and John Howard Payne.
For the wedding march you now hear only "Come with
the Gypsy Bride." You rarely dine at the same place
twice in succession. You tire of the food; and, besides,
you want to give them time for the question of that souve-
nir silver sugar bowl to blow over.
The Turpins were therefore happy. They made many
warm and delightful friends, some of whom they remem-
Suite Homes and Their Romance 137
bered the next day. Their home life was an ideal one,
according to the rules and regulations of the Book of Bluff.
There came a time when it dawned upon Turpin
that his wife was getting away with too much money.
If you belong to the near-swell class in the Big City,
and your income is $200 per month, and you find at the
end of the month, after looking over the bills for current
expenses, that you, yourself, have spent $150, you very
naturally wonder what has become of the other $50.
So you suspect your wife. And perhaps you give her
• hint that something needs explanation.
* I say, Vivien," said Turpin, one afternoon when they
wore enjoying in rapt silence the peace and quiet of their
cozy apartment, "you've been creating a hiatus big
enough for a dog to crawl through in this month's hon-
orarium. You haven't been paying your dressmaker
anything on account, have you?"
There was a moment's silence. No sounds could be
heard except the breathing of the fox terrier, and the
Mibdued, monotonous sizzling of Vivien's fulvous locks
against the insensate curling irons. Claude Turpin,
"ftting upon a pillow that he had thoughtfully placed
upon the convolutions of the apartment sofa, narrowly
hatched the riante, lovely face of his wife.
"Claudie, dear," said she, touching her finger to her
*dby tongue and testing the unresponsive curling irons,
"you do me an injustice. Mme. Toinette has not seen a
cent of mine since the day you paid your tailor ten dollars
Turpin's suspicions were allayed for the time. But
one day soon there came an anonymous letter to him
that read :
"Watch your wife. She is blowing in your money
secretly. I was a sufferer just as you are. The place
is No. 345 Blank Street. A word to the wise, etc.
"A Man Who Knows"
Turpin took this letter to the captain of police of
the precinct that he lived in.
"My precinct is as clean as a hound's tooth," said the
captain. "The lid's shut down as close there as it is
over the eye of a Williamsburg girl when she's kissed at
a party. But if you think there's anything queer at the
address, I'll go there with ye."
On the next afternoon at 3, Turpin and the captain
crept softly up the stairs of No. 345 Blank Street. A
dozen plain-clothes men, dressed in full police uniforms,
so as to allay suspicion, waited in the hall below.
At the top of the stairs was a door, which was found
to be locked. The captain took a key from his pocket
and unlocked it. The two men entered.
They found themselves in a large room, occupied
by twenty or twenty-five elegantly clothed ladies. Racing
charts hung against the walls, a tickei clicked in one
corner; with a telephone receiver to his ear a man was
calling out the various positions of the horses in a very
exciting race. The occupants of the room looked up at
the intruders; but, as if reassured by the sight of the
Suite' Homes and Their Romance 13f>
captain's uniform, they reverted their attention to the
man at the telephone.
"You see," said the captain to Turpin, "the value of
an anonymous letter! No high-minded and self-respect-
ing gentleman should consider one worthy of notice.
Is your wife among this assembly, Mr. Turpin ?"
"She is not," said Turpin.
"And if she was," continued the captain, "would she
be within the reach of the tongue of slander? These
ladies constitute a Browning Society. They meet to
discuss the meaning of the great poet. The telephone
is connected with Boston, whence the parent society
transmits frequently its interpretations of the poems. Be
ashamed of yer suspicions, Mr. Turpin."
"Go soak your shield," said Turpin. "Vivien knows
how to take care of herself in a pool-room. She's not
dropping anything on the ponies. There must be some,
thing queer going on here."
"Nothing but Browning," said the captain. "Hear
"Thanatopsis by a nose," drawled the man at the
"That's not Browning; that's Longfellow," said
Turpin, who sometimes read books.
" Back to the pasture ! " exclaimed the captain. " Long-
fellow made the pacing-to-wagon record of 7.53 'way
back in 1868."
"I believe there's something queer about this joint,"
"I don't see it," said the captain.
"I know it looks like a pool-room, all right," persisted
Turpin, " but that's all a blind. Vivien has been dropping
a lot of coin somewhere. I believe there's some under-
handed work going on here."
A number of racing sheets were tacked close together,
covering a large space on one of the walls. Turpin,
suspicious, tore several of them down. A door, pre-
viously hidden, was revealed. Turpin placed an ear to
the crack and listened intently. He heard the soft hum
of many voices, low and guarded laughter, and a sharp,
metallic clicking and scraping as if from a multitude of
tiny but busy objects.
"My God! It is as I feared!" whispered Turpin to
himself. "Summon your men at once!" he called to the
captain. "She is in there, I know."
At the blowing of the captain's whistle the uniformed
plain-clothes men rushed up the stairs into the pool-
room. When they saw the betting paraphernalia distrib-
uted around they halted, surprised and puzzled to know
why they had been summoned.
But the captain pointed to the locked door and bade
them break it down. In a few moments they demolished
it with the axes they carried. Into the other room sprang
Claude Turpin, with the captain at his heels.
The scene was one that lingered long in Turpin '&
mind. Nearly a score of women — women expensivelv
and fashionably clothed, many beautiful and of refined
appearance — had been seated at little marble-topped
Suite Homes and Their Romance 141
tables. When the police burst open the door they
shrieked and ran here and there like gayly plumed birds
that had been disturbed in a tropical grove. Some
became hysterical; one or two fainted; several knelt at
the feet of the officers and besought them for mercy on
account of their families and social position.
A man who had been seated behind a desk had seized
a roll of currency as large as the ankle of a Paradise
Roof Gardens chorus girl and jumped out of the window.
Half a dozen attendants huddled at one end of the room,
breathless from fear.
Upon the tables remained the damning and incon-
trovertible evidences of the guilt of the habituees of that
sinister room — dish after dish heaped high with ice
cream, and surrounded by stacks of empty ones, scraped
to the last spoonful.
"LaJies," said the captain to his weeping circle of
prisoners, "I'll not hold any of yez. Some of yez I recog-
nize as having fine houses and good standing in the
community, with hard-working husbands and childer
at home. But I'll read ye a bit of a lecture before ye go*
In the next room there's a 20-to-l shot just dropped in
under the wire three lengths ahead of the field. Is this
the way ye waste your husbands' money instead of help-
ing earn it? Home wid yez! The lid's on the ice-cream
freezer in this precinct,"
Claude Turpin's wife was among the patrons of the
raided room. He led her to their apartment in stern
silence. There she wept so remorsefully and besought
his forgiveness so pleadingly that he forgot his just anger,
and soon he gathered his penitent golden-haired Vivien
in his arms and forgave her.
"Darling/' she murmured, half sobbingly, as the moon-
light drifted through the open window, glorifying her
sweet, upturned face, "I know I done wrong. I will
never touch ice cream again. I forgot you were not
a millionaire. I used to go there every day. But to-day
I felt some strange, sad presentiment of evil, and I was
not myself. I ate only eleven saucers."
"Say no more," said Claude, gently as he fondly
caressed her waving curls.
"And you are sure that you fully forgive me?" asked
Vivien, gazing at him entreatingly with dewy eyes of
"Almost sure, little one," answered Claude, stooping
and lightly touching her snowy forehead with his lips.
"I'll let you know later on. I've got a month's salary
down on Vanilla to win the three-year-old steeplechase
to-morrow; and if the ice-cream hunch is to the good
you are It again — see ?"
THE WHIRLIGIG OF LIFE
JUSTICE- OF -THE -PEACE Benaja Widdup sat ia
the door of his office smoking his elder-stem pipe. Half-
way to the zenith the Cumberland range rose blue-gray
in the afternoon haze. A speckled hen swaggered down
the main street of the " settlement," cackling foolishly.
Up the road came a sound of creaking axles, and then
a slow cloud of dust, and then a bull-cart bearing Ransie
Bilbro and his wife. The cart stopped at the Justice's
door, and the two climbed down. Ransie was a narrow
six feet of sallow brown skin and yellow hair. The
imperturbability of the mountains hung upon him like
a suit of armour. The woman was calicoed, angled,
snuff-brushed, and weary with unknown desires. Through
it all gleamed a faint protest of cheated youth unconscious
of its loss.
The Justice of the Peace slipped his feet into his shoes*
for the sake of dignity, and moved to let them enter.
"We-all," said the woman, in a voice like the wind
blowing through pine boughs, "wants a divo'ce." She
looked at Ransie to see if he noted any flaw or ambiguity
or evasion or partiality or self-partisanship in her state*
ment of their business.
A divo'ce," repeated Ransie, with a solemn no<f.
We-all can't git along together nohow. It's lonesome
enough fur to live in the mount'ins when a man and a
woman keers fur one another. But when slie's a-spittin*
like a wildcat qr*a-sullenin' like a hoot-owl in the cabin,
a man ain't got no call to live with her."
"When he's a no-'count varmint," said the woman,
without any especial warmth, "a-traipsin' along of
scalawags and moonshiners and a-layin' on his back
pizen 'ith co'n whiskey, and a-pesterin' folks with a pack
o* hungry, triflin' houn's to feed ! "
" When she keeps a-throwin' skillet lids," came Ransie's
antiphony, " and slings b'ilin' water on the best coon-dog
in the Cumberlands, and sets herself agin' cookin' a man's
victuals, and keeps him awake o' nights accusin' him
of a sight of doin's!"
"When he's al'ays a-fightin' the revenues, and gits a
hard name in the mount'ins fur a mean man, who's
gwine to be able fur to sleep o' nights ? "
The Justice of the Peace stirred deliberately to his
duties. He placed his one chair and a wooden stool
for his petitioners. He opened his book of statutes on
the table and scanned the index. Presently he wiped his
spectacles and shifted his inkstand.
"The law and the statutes," said he, "air silent on the
subjeck of divo'ce as fur as the jurisdiction of this co't
air concerned. But, accordin' to equity and the Con-
stitution and the golden rule, it's a bad barg'in that can't
run both ways. If a justice of the peace can marry a
The Whirligig of Life 145
couple, it's plain that he is bound to be able to diyo'ce
'em. This here office will issue a decree of divo'ce
and abide by the decision of the Supreme Co't to hold it
Ransie Bilbro drew a small tobacco-bag from his
trousers pocket. Out of this he shook upon the table
a five-dollar note. "Sold a b'arskin and two foxes fur
that," he remarked. "It's all the* money we got."
"The regular price of a divo'ce in this co't," said the
Justice, "air five dollars." He stuffed the bill into the
pocket of his homespun vest with a deceptive air of indiffer-
ence. With much bodily toil and mental travail he wrote
the decree upon half a sheet of foolscap, and then copied
it upon the other. Ransie Bilbro and his wife listened to his
reading of the document that was to give them freedom:
"Know all men by these presents that Ransie Bilbro
and his wife, Ariela Bilbro, this day personally appeared
before me and promises that hereinafter they will neither
love, honour, nor obey each other, neither for better nor
worse, being of sound mind and body, and accept summons
for divorce according to the peace and dignity of the State.
Herein fail not, so help you God. Benaja Widdup,
justice of the peace in and for the county of Piedmont,
State of Tennessee."
The Justice was about to hand one of the documents
to Ransie. The voice of Ariela delayed the transfer.
Both men looked at her. Their dull masculinity was
confronted by something sudden and unexpected in the
m Judge, don't you give him that air paper yit. "Tarn :
all settled, nohow. I got to have my rights first 1
got to have my ali-money. 'Tain't no kind of a way to <k
fur a man to divo'ce his wife 'thout her bavin' a cent for
to do with. I'm a-layin' off to be a-goin' up to brother
Ed's up on Hogback Mount'in. I'm bound fur to he
a pa'r of shoes and some snuff and things besides. E
Ranee kin affo'd a divo'ce, let him pay me ali-money."
Ransie Bilbro was stricken to dumb perplexity. Then
had been no previous hint of alimony. Women were
always bringing up startling and unlooked-for issues.
Justice Benaja Widdup felt that the point demanded
judicial decision. The authorities were also silent on tk
subject of alimony. But the woman's feet were bare.
The trail to Hogback Mountain was steep and flinty.
"Ariela Bilbro," he asked, in official tones, "how
much did you 'low would be good and sufficient ali-money
in the case befo' the co't."
"I 'lowed," she answered, "fur the shoes and all, to
say five dollars. That ain't much fur ali-money, but
I reckon that'll git me to up brother Ed's."
" The amount," said the Justice, " air not onreasonable.
Ransie Bilbro, you air ordered by the co't to pay the plain-
tiff the sum of five dollars befo' the decree of divo'ce air
I hain't no mo' money," breathed Ransie, heavily.
I done paid you all I had."
Otherwise," said the Justice, looking severely over
his spectacles, "you air in contempt of co't."
The Whirligig of Life 147
"I reckon if you gimme till to-morrow," pleaded the
husband, "I mout be able to rake or scrape it up
somewhars. I never looked for to be a-payin' no ali-
"The case air adjourned," said Benaja Widdup, "till
to-morrow, when you-all will present yo'selves and obey
the order of the co't. Followin* of which the decrees
of divo'ce will be delivered." He sat down in the door
and began to loosen a shoestring.
"We mout as well go down to Uncle Ziah's," decided
Ransie, "and spend the night." He climbed into the
cart on one side, and Ariela climbed in on the other.
Obeying the flap of his rope, the little red bull slowly
came around on a tack, and the cart crawled away in the
nimbus arising from its wheels.
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup smoked his elder-
stem pipe. Late in the afternoon he got his weekly paper,
and read it until the twilight dimmed its lines. Then
he lit the tallow candle on his table, and read until the
moon rose, marking the time for supper. He lived in
the double log cabin on the slope near the girdled poplar.
Going home to supper he crossed a little branch darkened
by a laurel thicket. The dark figure of a man stepped
from the laurels and pointed a rifle at his breast. His
hat was pulled down lo&, aYid something covered most of
his face. \
"I want yo' money," said* the figure, "'thout any talk.
I'm gettin' nervous, and my finger's a-wabblin* on this
here trigger." ^
I've only got f-f-five dollars/' said the Justice, pro-
ducing it from his vest pocket.
"Roll it up," came the order, "and stick it in the end
of this here gun-bar'l."
The bill was crisp and new. Even fingers that were
clumsy and trembling found little difficulty in making
a spill of it and inserting it (this with less ease) into the
muzzle of the rifle.
"Now I reckon you kin be goin' along," said the robber.
The Justice lingered not on his way.
The next day came the little red bull, drawing the cart
to the office door. Justice Benaja Widdup had his shoes
on, for he was expecting the visit. In his presence Ransie
Bilbro handed to his wife a five-dollar bill. The official's
eye sharply viewed it. It seemed to curl up as though it
had been rolled and inserted into the end of a gun-barrel.
But the Justice refrained from comment. It is true that
other bills might be inclined to curl. He handed each
one a decree of divorce. Each stood awkwardly silent,
slowly folding the guarantee of freedom. The woman
cast a shy glance full of constraint at Ransie.
"I reckon you'll be goin* back up to the cabin," she said
"along 'ith the bull-cart. There's bread in the tin box
settin' on the shelf. I put the bacon in the b'ilin'-pot
to keep the hounds from gittin' it. Don't forget to wind
the clock to-night."
"You air a-goin' to your brother Ed's?" asked Ransie,
with fine unconcern.
The Whirligig of Life 149
"I was 'lowin' to get along up thar afore night. I
ain't sayin' as they'll pester they selves any to make me
welcome, but I hain't nowhar else fur to go. It's a right
smart ways, and I reckon I better be goin'. I'll be a-sayin'
good-bye, Ranse — that is, if you keer fur to say so."
"I don't know as anybody's a hound dog," said Ransie,
in a martyr's voice, "fur to not want to say good-bye —
'less you air so anxious to git away that you don't want
me to say it."
Ariela was silent. She folded the five-dollar bill and
her decree carefully, and placed them in the bosom of
her dress. Benaja Widdup watched the money disappear
with mournful eyes behind his spectacles.
And then with his next words he achieved rank (as
his thoughts ran) with either the great crowd of the world's
sympathizers or the little crowd of its great financiers.
"Be kind o' lonesome in the old cabin to-night, Ranse,"
Ransie Bilbro stared out at the Cumberlands, clear
blue now in the sunlight. He did not look at Ariela.
"I 'low it might be lonesome," he said; "but when
folks gits mad and wants a divo'ce, you can't make folks
"There's others wanted a divo'ce," said Ariela, speaking
to the wooden stool. "Besides, nobody don't want no-
body to stay."
"Nobody never said they didn't."
"Nobody never said they did. I reckon I better
start on now to brother Ed's "
Nobody can't wind that old clock."
Want me to go back along 'ith you in the cart and
wind it fur you, Ranse ?"
The mountaineer's countenance was proof against
emotion. But he reached out a big hand and enclosed
Ariela's thin brown one. Her soul peeped out once
through her impassive face, hallowing it.
"Them hounds shan't pester you no more," said
Ransie. "I reckon I been mean and low down. You
wind that clock, Ariela."
"My heart hit's in that cabin, Ranse," she whispered,
" along 'ith you. I ai'nt a-goin' to git mad no more. Le's
be startin', Ranse, so's we kin git home by sundown."
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup interposed as they
started for the door, forgetting his presence.
"In the name of the State of Tennessee," he said, "I
forbid you-all to be a-defyin' pf its laws and statutes.
This co't is mo' than willin' and full of joy to see the
clouds of discord and misunderstandin' rollin' away
from two lovin' hearts, but it air the duty of the co't to
p'eserve the morals and integrity of the State. The co't
reminds you that you air no longer man and wife, but air
divo'ced by regular decree, and as such air not entitled
to the benefits and 'purtenances of the mattermonal
Ariela caught Ransie's arm. Did those words mean
that she must lose him now when they had just learned
the lesson of life r
"But the co't air prepared," went on the Justice, "fu*
The Whirligig of Life 151
to remove the disabilities set up by the decree of divo'ce.
The co't air on hand to perform the solemn ceremony
of marri'ge, thus fixin' things up and enablin' the parties
in the case to resume the honour'ble and elevatin* state
of mattermony which they desires. The fee fur per-
formin' said ceremony will be, in this case, to wit, five
Ariela caught the gleam of promise in his words.
Swiftly her hand went to her bosom. Freely as an
alighting dove the bill fluttered to the Justice's table.
Her sallow cheek coloured as she stood hand in hand
with Ransie and listened to the reuniting words.
Ransie helped her into the cart, and climbed in beside
her. The little red bull turned once more, and they
set out, hand-clasped, for the mountains.
Justice-of-the-peace Benaja Widdup sat in his door
and took off his shoes. Once again he fingered the bill
tucked down in his vest pocket. Once again he smoked
his elder-stem pipe. Once again the speckled hen swag-
gered down the main street of the "settlement," cackling
A SACRIFICE HIT
THE editor of the Hearthstone Mag (mite ha* his own
ideas about the selection of manuscript for his publication.
His theory is no secret; in fact, he will expound it to you
willingly sitting at his mahogany desk, smiling benignantly
and tapping his knee gently with hfc gold-rimmed eye-
"The Hearthstone/ 9 he will say, "does not employ e
staff of readers. We obtain opinions of the manuscripts
submitted to us directly from types ot the various classes
of our readers."
That is the editor's theory; and this is the way he carries
When a batch of MSS, is received the editor stuffs
every one of his pockets full of them and distribute?
them as he goes about during the day. The office
employees, the hall porter, the janitor, the elevator man.
messenger boys, the waiters at the cafe where the editor
has luncheon, the man at the news-stand where he buys
his evening paper, the grocer and milkman, the guard
on the 5.30 uptown elevated train, the ticket-chopper at
Sixty — th street, the cook and maid at his home —
these are the readers who pass upon MSS. sent in to the
A Sacrifice^ffit 153
Hearthstone Magazine. If his pockets are not entirely
emptied by the time he reaches the bosom of his family
♦he remaining ones are handed over to his wife to read
after the baby goes to sleep. A few days later the editor
gathers in the MSS. during his regular rounds and con-
siders the verdict of his assorted readers.
This system of making up a magazine has been verj
successful; and the circulation, paced by the advertising
rates, is making a wonderful record of speed.
The Hearthstone Company also publishes books, and
its imprint is to be found on several successful works
— all recommended, says the editor, by the Hearthstone^ s
army of volunteer readers. Now and then (according to
talkative members of the editorial staff) the Hearthstone
has allowed manuscripts to slip through its fingers on the
advice of its heterogeneous readers, that afterward proved
to be famous sellers when brought out by other houses.
For instance (the gossips say), "The Rise and Fall
of Silas Latham" was unfavourably passed upon by the
elevator-man; the office-boy unanimously rejected "The
Boss"; "In the Bishop's Carriage" was contemptuously
looked upon by the street-car conductor; "The Deliver-
ance" was turned down by a clerk in the subscription
department whose wife's mother had just begun a two-
months' visit at his home; "The Queen's Quair" came
back from the janitor with the comment: "So is the book."
But nevertheless the Hearthstone adheres to its theory
and system, and it will never lack volunteer readers;
for each one of the widely scattered staff, from the young
lady stenographer in the editorial office to the man who
shovels in coal (whose adverse decision lost to the Hearth-
stone Company the manuscript of "The Under World"),
has expectations of becoming editor of the magazine some
This method of the Hearthstone was well known to
Allen Slayton when he wrote his novelette entitled "Love
Is All." Slayton had hung about the editorial offices
of all the magazines so persistently that he was acquainted
with the inner workings of every one in Gotham.
He knew not only that the editor of the Hearthstone
handed his MSS. around among different types of people
for reading, but that the stories of sentimental love-
interest went to Miss Puff kin, the editor's stenographer.
Another of the editor's peculiar customs was to conceal
invariably the name of the writer from his readers of
MSS. so that a glittering name might not influence the
sincerity of their reports.
Slayton made "Love Is All" the effort of his life. He
gave it six months t)f the best work of his heart and
brain. It was a pure love-story, fine, elevated, romantic,
passionate — a prose poem that set the divine blessing
of love (I am transposing from the manuscript) high
above all earthly gifts and honours, and listed it in the
catalogue of heaven's choicest rewards. Slayton's literary
ambition was intense. He would have sacrificed all
other worldly possessions to have gained fame in his
chosen art. He would almost have cut off his right
hand, or have offered himself to the knife of the appendJ-
A Sacrifice Hit 155
citis fancier to have realized his dreaja of seeing one of
his efforts published in the Hearthstone.
Slayton finished "Love Is All," and took it to the
Hearthstone in person. The office of the magazine was
in a large, conglomerate building, presided under by a
As the writer stepped inside the door on his way to
the elevator a potato masher flew through the hall, wreck-
ing Slayton's hat, and smashing the glass of the door.
Closely following in the wake of the utensil flew the
janitor, a bulky, unwholesome man, suspenderless and
sordid, panic-stricken and breathless. A frowsy, fat
woman with flying hair followed the missile. The
janitor's foot slipped on the tiled floor, he fell in a heap
with an exclamation of despair. The woman pounced upon
him and seized his hair. The man bellowed lustily.
Her vengeance wreaked, the virago rose and stalks
triumphant as Minerva, back to some cryptic domestic
retreat at the rear. The janitor got to his feet, blown
"This is married life," he said to Slayton, with a certain
bruised humour. "That's the girl I used to lay awake
of nights thinking about. Sorry about your hat, mister.
Say, don't snitch to the tenants about this, will yerr
I don't want to lose me job."
Slayton took the elevator at the end of the hall and
went up to the offices of the Hearthstone. He left the
MS. of " Love Is All " with the editor, who agreed to give
him an answer as to its availability at the end of 9 week.
Slayton formulated his great winning scheme on his
way down. It struck him with one brilliant flash, and
he could not refrain from admiring his own genius in
conceiving the idea. That very night he set about carry-
ing it into execution.
Miss Puffkin, the Hearthstone stenographer, boarded
in the same house with the author. She was an oldish,
thin, exclusive, languishing, sentimental maid; and
Slayton had been introduced to her some time before.
The writer's daring and self-sacrificing project was
this: He knew that the editor of the Hearthstone relied
strongly upon Miss Puffkin's judgment in the manuscript
of romantic and sentimental fiction. Her taste represented
the immense average of mediocre women who devour
novels and stories of that type. The central idea and
keynote of " Love Is All " was* love at first sight — the
enrapturing, irresistible, soul-thrilling feeling that com-
pels a man or a woman to recognize his or her spirit-mate
as soon as heart speaks to heart. Suppose he should
impress this divine truth upon Miss Puffkin personally!
— would she not surely indorse her new and rapturous
sensations by recommending highly to the editor of the
Hearthstone the novelette "Love Is AH"?
Slayton thought so. And that night he took Miss
Puffkin to the theatre. The next night he made vehement
love to her in the dim parlour of the boarding-house. He
quoted freely from " Love Is All " ; and he wound up witu
Miss Puffkin's head on his shoulder, and visions of literary
fame dancing in his head.
A Sacrifice Hit 157
But Slayton did not stop at love-making. This, he
said to himself, was the turning point of his life; and, like
a true sportsman, he "went the limit." On Thursday
night he and Miss Puffkin walked over to the Big Church
in the Middle of the Block and were married.
Brave Slayton! Chateaubriand died in a garret,
Byron courted a widow, Keats starved to death, Poe
mixed his drinks, De Quincey hit the pipe, Ade lived in
Chicago, James kept on doing it, Dickens wore white
socks, De Maupassant wore a strait-jacket, Tom Watson
became a Populist, Jeremiah wept, all these authors did
these things, for the sake of literature, but thou didst
cap them all; thou marriedst a wife for to carve for thyself
a niche in the temple of fame!
On Friday morning Mrs. Slayton said she would go
over to the Hearthstone office, hand in one or two manu-
scripts that the editor had given to her to read, and resign
her position as stenographer.
" Was there anything — er — that — er — you particu-
larly fancied in the stories you are going to turn in ? ''
asked Slayton with a thumping heart.
" There was one — a novelette, that I liked so much,"
said his wife. "I haven't read anything in years that
I thought was half as nice and true to life."
That afternoon Slayton hurried down to the Hearth-
stone office. He felt that his reward was close at hand.
With a novelette in the Hearthstone, literary reputation
would soon be his.
The office boy met him at the railing in the outer
office. It was not for unsuccessful authors to hold
personal colloquy with the editor except at rare intervals.
Slayton, hugging himself internally, was nursing in
his heart the exquisite hope of being able to crush the
office boy with his forthcoming success.
He inquired concerning his novelette. The office boy
went into the sacred precincts and brought forth a large
envelope, thick with more than the bulk of a thousand
" The boss told me to tell you he's sorry," said the boy,"
"but your manuscript ain't available for the magazine."
Slayton stood, dazed. " Can you tell me," he stammered,
" whether or no Miss Puff — that is my — I mean Miss
Puffkin — handed in a novelette this morning that she
had been asked to read ? "
"Sure she did," answered the office boy wisely. "I
heard the old man say that Miss Puffkin said it was a
daisy. The name of it was, * Married for the Mazuma,
or a Working Girl's Triumph.'
"Say, you!" said the office boy confidentially, "your
name's Slayton, ain't it? I guess I mixed cases on you
without meanin' to do it. The boss give me some manu-
script to hand around the other day and I got the ones for
Miss Puffkin and the janitor mixed. I guess it's all right,
And then Slayton looked closer and saw on the cover
of his manuscript, under the title "Love Is All," the
janitor's comment scribbled with a piece of charcoal:
" The — you say ! "
THE ROADS WE TAKE
TWENTY miles west of Tucson the "Sunset Express *
stopped at a tank to take on water. Besides the aqueous
addition the engine of that famous flyer acquired some
other things that were not good for it.
While the fireman was lowering the feeding hose,
Bob Tidball, "Shark" Dodson and a quarter-bred Creek
Indian called John Big Dog climbed on the engine and
showed the engineer three round orifices in pieces of
ordnance that they carried. These orifices so impressed
the engineer with their possibilities that he raised both
hands in a gesture such as accompanies the ejaculation
At the crisp command of Shark Dodson, who was
leader of the attacking force the engineer descended
to the ground and uncoupled the engine and tender.
Then John Big Dog, perched upon the coal, sportively
held two guns upon the engine driver and the fireman,
and suggested that they run the engine fifty yards away
and there await further orders.
Shark Dodson and Bob Tidball, scorning to put
such low-grade ore as the passengers through the mill,
struck out for the rich pocket of the express car. They
found the messenger serene in the belief that the "Sunset
Express" was taking on nothing more stimulating and
dangerous than aqua pura. While Bob was knocking
this idea out of his head with the butt-end of his six-shooter
Shark Dodson was already dosing the express-car
safe with dynamite.
The safe exploded to the tune of $30,000, all gold and
currency. The passengers thrust their heads casually
out of the windows to look for the thunder-cloud. The
conductor jerked at the bell-rope, which sagged down
loose and unresisting, at his tug. Shark Dodson
and Bob Tidball, with their booty in a stout canvas bag,
tumbled out of the express car and ran awkwardly in theL:
high-heeled boots to the engine.
The engineer, sullenly angry but wise, ran the engine,
according to orders, rapidly away from the inert train.
But before this was accomplished the express messenger,
recovered from Bob Tidball's persuader to neutrality,
jumped out of his car with a Winchester rifle and took
a trick in the game. Mr. John Big Dog, sitting on the
coal tender, unwittingly made a wrong lead by giving an
imitation of a target, and the messenger trumped him.
With a ball exactly between his shoulder blades the
Creek chevalier of industry rolled off to the ground,
thus increasing the share of his comrades in the loot by
Two miles from the tank the engineer was ordered
The robbers wav^d a defiant adieu and plunged dowj>
The Roads We Take 161
the steep slope into the thick woods that lined the track.
Five minutes of crashing through a thicket of chappara!
brought them to open woods, where three horses were
tied to low-hanging branches. One was waiting for John
Big Dog, who would never ride by night or day again.
This animal the robbers divested of saddle and bridle
and set freQ. They mounted the other two with the
bag across one pommel, and rode fast and with discre-
tion through the forest and up a primeval, lonely gorge.
Here the animal that bore Bob Tidball slipped on a mossy
boulder and broke a foreleg. They shot him through
the head at once and sat down to hold a council of flight.
Made secure for the present by the tortuous trail they
had travelled, the question of time was no longer so big.
Many miles and hours lay between them and the spryest
posse that could follow. Shark Dodson's horse, with
trailing rope and dropped bridle, panted and cropped
thankfully of the grass along the stream in the gorge.
Bob Tidball opened the sack, drew out double handfuls
of the neat packages of currency and the one sack of
gold and chuckled with the glee of a child.
"Say, you old double-decked pirate," he called joyfully
to Dodson, "you said we could do it — you got a head for
financing that knocks the horns off of anything in Arizona."
"What are we going to do about a hoss for you, Bob ?
We ain't got long to wait here. They'll be on our trail
before daylight in the mornin'."
"Oh, I guess that cayuse of yourn'll carry double for
a while," answered the sanguine Bob. "We'll annex
162 . Whirligigs
the first animal we come across. By jingoes, we made a
haul, didn't we ? Accordin' to the marks on this money
there's $30,000 — $15,000 apiece!"
I "It's short of what I expected," said Shark Dodson,
kicking softly at the packages with the toe of his boot.
And then "he looked pensively at the wet sides of his tired
"Old Bolivar's mighty nigh played out," he said,
slowly. "I wish that sorrel of yours hadn't got hurt."
"So do I," said Bob, heartily, "but it can't be helped.
Bolivar's got plenty of bottom — he'll get us both far
enough to get fresh mounts. Dang it, Shark, I can't
nelp thinkin' how funny it is that an Easterner like you
can come out here and give us Western fellows cards
and spades in the desperado business. What part of the
East was you from, anyway?"
"New York State," said Shark Dodson, sitting
down on a boulder and chewing a' twig. "I was born
on a farm in Ulster County. I ran away from home
when I was seventeen. It was an accident my comin*
West. I was walkin' along the road with my clothes in
a bundle, makin' ibr New York City. I had an idea of
goin' there and makin' lots of money. I always felt like
1 could do it. I came to a place one evenin' where the
road forked and I didn't know which fork to take. I
studied about it for half an hour, and then I took the .left-
hand. That night I run into the camp of a Wild West
show that was travellin' among the little towns, and
i went West with it. I've often wondered if I
The Roads We Take 163
wouldn't have turned out different if I'd took the other
"Oh, I reckon you'd have ended up about the same,"
said Bob Tidball, cheerfully philosophical. "It ain't
the roads we take; it's what's inside of us that makes us
turn out the way we do."
Shark Dodson got up and leaned against a tree.
"I'd a good deal rather that sorrel of yourn hadn't
hurt himself, Bob," he said again, almost pathetically.
"Same here," agreed Bob; "he was sure a first-rate
kind of a crowbait. But Bolivar, he'll pull us through
all right. Reckon we'd better be movin' on, hadn't
we, Shark ? I'll bag this boodle ag'in and we'll hit the
trail for higher timber."
Bob Tidball replaced the spoil in the bag and tied the
mouth of it tightly with a cord. When he looked up the
most prominent object that he saw was the muzzle of
Shark Dodson's .45 held upon him without a waver.
r "Stop your funnin'," said Bob, with a grin. "We got
to be hittin' the breeze."
"Set still," said Shark. "You ain't goin' to hit
no breeze, Bob. I hate to tell you, but there ain't any
chance for but one of us. Bolivar, he's plenty tired,
and he can't carry double."
"We been pards, me and you, Shark Dodson, for three
year/* Bob said quietly. "We've risked our lives together
time and again. I've always give you a square deal,
and I thought you was a man. I've heard some queer
stories about you shootin' one or two men in a peculiar
way, but I never believed 'em. Now if you're just havin'
a little fun with me, Shark, put your gun up, and we'll
get on Bolivar and vamose. If you mean to shoot —
shoot, you blackhearted son of a tarantula!"
Shark Dodson's face bore a deeply sorrowful look.
"You don't know how bad I feel," he sighed, "about
that sorrel of yourn breakin' his leg, Bob."
The expression on Dodson's face changed in an instant
to one of cold ferocity mingled with inexorable cupidity.
The soul of the man showed itself for a moment like an
evil face in the window of a reputable house.
Truly Bob Tidball was never to "hit the breeze" again.
The deadly .45 of the false friend cracked and filled the
gorge with a roar that the walls hurled back with indignant
echoes. And Bolivar, unconscious accomplice, swiftly
bore away the last of the holders-up of the "Sunset
Express," not put to the stress of "carrying double,"
But as "Shark" Dodson galloped away the woods
seemed to fade from his view; the revolver in his right hand
turned to the curved arm of a mahogany chair; his saddle
was strangely upholstered, and he bpened his eyes and
saw his feet, not in stirrups, but resting quietly on the edge
of a quartered-oak desk.
I am telling you that Dodson, of the firm of Dodson
& Decker, Wall Street brokers, opened his eyes. Peabody,
the confidential clerk, was standing by his chair, hesitating
to speak. There was a confused hum of wheels below, and
the sedative buzz of an electric fan.
The Roads We Take 165
"Ahem! Peabody," said Dodson, blinking. "I must
have fallen asleep. I had a most remarkable dream.
What is it, Peabody?"
"Mr. Williams, sir, of Tracy & Williams, is outside.
He has come to settle his deal in X. Y. Z. The market
caught him short, sir, if you remember."
"Yes, I remember. What is X. Y. Z. quoted at to-day,
"One eighty-five, sir."
"Then that's his price."
"Excuse me," said Peabody, rather nervously, "for
speaking of it, but I've been talking to Williams. He's
an old friend of yours, Mr. Dodson, and you practically
have a corner in X. Y. Z. I thought you might — that is,
I thought you might not remember that he sold you
the stock at 98. If he settles at the market price it will
take every cent he has in the world and his home too to
deliver the shares."
The expression on Dodson's face changed in an instant
to one of cold ferocity mingled with inexorable cupidity.
The soul of the man showed itself for a moment like an
evil face in the window of a reputable house.
"He will settle at one eighty-five," said Dodson.
"Bolivar cannot carry double."
A BLACKJACK BARGAINER
1HE most disreputable thing in Yancey Goree's law
office was Goree himself, sprawled in his creaky old arm-
chair. The rickety little office, built of red brick, was
set flush with the street — the main street of the town of
Bethel rested upon the foot-hills of the Blue Ridge.
Above it the mountains were piled to the sky. Far
below it the turbid Catawba gleamed yellow along its
The June day was at its sultriest hour. Bethel dozed
in the tepid shade. Trade was not. It was so still that
Goree, reclining in his chair, distinctly heard the clicking
of the chips in the grand-jury room, where the "court-
house gang" was playing poker From the open back
door of the office a well-worn path meandered across the
grassy lot to the court-house. The treading out of that
path had cost Goree all he ever had — first inheritance
of a few thousand dollars, next the old family nome, and,
latterly the last shreds of his self-respect and manhood.
The "gang" had cleaned him out. The broken gambler
had turned drunkard and parasite; he had lived to see
this day come when the men who had stripped him
A Blackjack Bargainer 167
denied him a seat at the game. His word was no longer
to be taken. The daily bouts at cards had arranged itself
accordingly, and to him was assigned the ignoble part of
the onlooker. The sheriff, the county clerk, a sportive
deputy, a gay attorney, and a chalk-faced man hailing
"from the valley," sat at table, and the sheared one
was thus tacitly advised to go and grow more wool.
Soon wearying of his ostracism, Goree Jiad departed
for his office, muttering to himself as he unsteadily tra-
versed the unlucky pathway. After a drink of corn
whiskey from a demijohn under the table, he had flung
himself into the chair, staring, in a sort of maudlin apathy,
out at the mountains immersed in the summer haze.
The little white patch he saw away up on the side of
Blackjack was Laurel, the village near which he had been
born and bred. There, also, was the birthplace of the
feud between the Gorees and the Coltranes. Now no
direct heir of the Gorees survived except this plucked
and singed bird of misfortune. To the Coltranes, also,
but one male supporter was left — Colonel Abner Col-
trane, a man of substance and standing, a member of the
State Legislature, and a contemporary with Goree's
father. The feud had been a typical one of the region;
it had left a red record of hate, wrong and slaughter.
But Yancey Goree was not thinking of feuds. His
befuddled brain was hopelessly attacking the problem
of the future maintenance of himself and his favourite
follies. Of late, old friends of the family had seen to it
that he had whereof to eat and a place to sleep, but whiskey
they would not buy for him, and he must have whisker
His law business was extinct; no case had been intrusted
to him in two years. He had been a borrower and i
sponge, and it seemed that if he fell no lower it would be
from lack of opportunity. One more chance — he was
saying to himself — if he had one more stake at the game
he thought he could win; but he had nothing left to sell
and his credit*was more than exhausted.
He could not help smiling, even in his misery, as he
thought of the man to whom, six months before, he had
sold the old Goree homestead. There had come from
"back yan'" in the mountains two of the strangest
creatures, a man named Pike Garvey and his wife. " Back
yan\" with a wave of the hand toward the hills, was
understood among the mountaineers to designate the
remotest fastnesses, the unplumbed gorges, the haunts of
lawbreakers, the wolf's den, and the boudoir of the bear.
In the cabin far up on Blackjack's shoulder, in the wildest
part of these retreats, this odd couple had lived for twenty
years. They had neither dog nor children to mitigate
the heavy silence of the hills. Pike Garvey was little
known in the settlements, but all who had dealt with him
pronounced him "crazy as a loon." He acknowledged
no occupation save that of a squirrel hunter, but be
"moonshined" occasionally by way of diversion. Once
the "revenues" had dragged him from. his lair, fighting
silently and desperately like a terrier, and he had been
sent to state's prison for two years. Released, he popv*)
back into his hole like an angry weasel
A Blackjack Bargainer 169
Fortune, passing over many anxious wooers, made a
reakish flight into Blackjack's bosky pockets to smile
pon Pike and his faithful partner.
One day a party of spectacled, knickerbockered, and
^together absurd prospectors invaded the vicinity of
he Garvey's cabin. Pike lifted his squirrel rifle off the
looks and took a shot at them at long range on the chance
>f their being revenues. Happily he missed, and the
mconscious agents of good luck drew nearer, disclosing
:heir innocence of anything resembling law or justice.
Later on, they offered the Garveys an enormous quantity
3f ready, green, crisp money for their thirty-acre patch
of cleared land, mentioning, as an excuse for such a mad
action, some irrelevant and inadequate nonsense about
a bed of mica underlying the said property.
When the Garveys became possessed of so many dol-
lars that they faltered in computing them, the deficiencies
of life on Blackjack began to grow prominent. Pike
began to talk of new shoes, a hogshead of tobacco to
set in the corner, a new lock to his rifle; and, leading
Martella to a certain spot on the mountain-side, he
pointed out to her how a small cannon — doubtless a
thing not beyond the scope of their fortune in price —
might be planted so as to command and defend the sole
accessible trail to the cabin, to the confusion of revenues
and meddling strangers forever.
But Adam reckoned withov* his Eve. These things
represented to him the applied power of wealth, but
there slumbered in his dingy cabin an ambition that
soared fur above his primitive wants. Somewhere in
Mrs. Garvey's bosom still survived a spot of femininity
unstarved by twenty years of Blackjack. For so long
a time the sounds in her ears had been the scaly-barks
dropping in the woods at noon, and the wolves singing
among the rocks at night, and it was enough to have
purged her of vanities. She had grown fat and sad and
yellow and dull. But when the means came, she felt a
rekindled desire to assume the perquisites of her sex —
to sit at tea tables; to buy inutile things; to whitewash
the hideous veracity of life with a little form and ceremony.
So she coldly vetoed Pike's proposed system of fortifica-
tions, and announced that they would descend upon the
world, and gyrate socially.
And thus, at length, it was decided, and the thing
done. The village of Laurel was their compromise
between Mrs. Garvey's preference for one of the large
valley towns and Pike's hankering for primeval solitudes.
Laurel yielded a halting round of feeble social distractLus
comportable with Martella's ambitions, and was not
entirely without recommendation to Pike, its contiguity
to the mountains presenting advantages for sudden retreat
in case fashionable society should make it advisable.
Their descent upon Laurel had been coincident with
Yancey Goree's feverish desire to convert property into
cash, and they bought the old Goree homestead, paying
four thousand dollars ready money into the spendthrift's
Thus it happened that while the disreputable last of
A Blackjack Bargainer 171
the Gorees sprawled in. his disreputable office, at the end
of his row, spurned by the cronies whom he had gorged,
strangers dwelt in the halls of his fathers.
A cloud of dust was rolling slowly up the parched
street, with something travelling in the midst of it. A
little breeze wafted the cloud to one side, and a new,
brightly painted carryall, drawn by a slothful gray horse,
became visible. The vehicle deflected from the middle
of the street as it neared Goree's office, and stopped in the
gutter directly in front of his door.
On the front seat sat a gaunt, tall man, dressed in
black broadcloth, his rigid hands incarcerated in yellow
kid gloves. On the back seat was a lady who triumphed
over the June heat. Her stout form was armoured in a
skin-ti/^ht silk dress of the description known as "change-
able," being a gorgeous combination of shifting hues.
She sat erect, waving a much-ornamented fan, with her,
eyes fixed stonily far down the street. However Martella
Garvey's heart might be rejoicing at the pleasures of her
new life, Blackjack had done his work with her exterior.
He had carved her countenance to the image of emptiness
and inanity; had imbued her with the stolidity of his
crags, and the reserve of his hushed interiors. She always
seemed to hear, whatever her surroundings were, the
scaly-barks falling and pattering down the mountain-
side. She could always hear the awful silence of Black-
jack sounding through the stillest of nights.
Goree watched this solemn equipage, as it drove to
his doo*\ with onlv faint interest; but when the lank
driver wrapped the reins about his whip, awkwardly
descended, and stepped into the office, he rose unsteadily
to receive him, recognizing Pike Garvev, the new, the
transformed, the recently civilized. "
The mountaineer took the chair Goree offered him.
They who cast doubts upon Garvey's soundness of mind
had a strong witness in the man's countenance. His face
was too long, a dull saffron in hue, and immobile as a
statue's. ' Pale-blue, unwinking round eyes without
lashes added to the singularity of his gruesome visage.
Goree was at a loss to account for the visit.
"Everything all right at Laurel, Mr. Garvey?" he
"Everything all right, sir, and mighty pleased is Missis
Garvey and me with the property. Missis Garvey likes
yo' old place, and she likes the neighbourhood. Society
is what she 'lows she wants, and she is gettin' of it. The
Rogerses, the Hapgoods, the Pratts, and the Troys hev
been to see Missis Garvey, and she hev et meals to most
of thar houses. The best folks hev axed her to differ'nt
kinds of doin's. I cyan't say, Mr. Goree, that sech
things suits me — fur me, give me them thar." Garvey's
huge, yellow-gloved hand flourished in the direction of
the mountains. "That's whar I b'long, 'mongst the
wild honey bees and the b'ars. But that ain't what I
come fur to say, Mr. Goree. Thar's somethin' you got
what me and Missis Garvey wants to buy."
"Buy!" echoed Goree. "From me?" Then he
laughed harshly. "I reckon you are mistaken about
A Blackjack Bargainer 173
t. I reckon you are mistaken about that. I sold out
you, as you yourself expressed it, 'lock, stock and
rel/ There isn't even a ramrod left to sell."
'You've got it; and we 'uns want it. 'Take the j
ney,* says Missis Garvey, 'and buy it fa'r and
loree shook his head. "The cupboard's bare," he
'We've riz," pursued the mountaineer, updeflected
m his object, "a heap. We was pore as possums,
i now we 'could hev folks to dinner every day. We
;n reco'nized, Missis Garvey says, by the best society.
t there's somethin' we need we ain't got. ,She says
ought to been put in the 'ventory ov the sale, but it
n't thar. 'Take the money, then,'' says she, 'and buy
a'r and squar'.'"
"Out with it," said Goree, his racked nerves growing
Garvey threw his slouch hat upon the table, and leaned
ward, fixing his unblinking eyes upon Goree's.
'There's a old feud," he said distinctly and slowly.
;ween you 'uns and the Coltranes."
Goree frowned ominously. To speak of his feud to
feudist is a serious breach of the mountain etiquette.
*e man from "back yan'" knew it as well as the lawyer
Na offense," he went on, "but purely in the way of
[ness. Missis Garvey hev studied all about feuds,
it of the quality folks in the mountains hev 'em. The
Settles and the Goforths, the Rankins and the Boyds,
Silers and the Galloways, hev all been cyarin* on fei
f 'om twenty to a hundred year. The last man to d
was when yo' uncle, Jedge Paisley Goree, 'journedi
and shot Len Coltrane f 'om the bench. Missis Gar
and me, we come f'om the do' white trash. Nolx
wouldn't pick a feud with we 'uns, no mo'n with a fan
of tree-toads. Quality people everywhar, says Mi
Garvey, has feuds. We 'uns ain't quality, but vt
buyin' into it as fur as we can. 'Take the money, tfe
says Missis Garvey, 'and buy Mr. Goree's feud, i
The squirrel hunter straightened a leg half across
room, drew a roll of bills from his pocket, and threw &
on the table.
"Thar's two hundred dollars, Mr. Goree; what |
would call a fa'r price for a feud that's been 'lowed
run down like yourn hev. Thar's only you left to (^
on yo' side of it, and you'd make mighty po* killin'. 1
take it off yo' hands, and it'll set me and Missis Gad
up among the quality. Thar's the money.*'
The little roll of currency on the table slowly un
itself, writhing and jumping as its folds relaxed,
silence that followed Garvey's last speech the rattli
the poker chips in the court-house could be plainly
Goree knew that the sheriff had just won a pot, f<
subdued whoop with which he always greeted a v<
floated across the square upon the crinkly heat
Beads of moisture stood on Goree's brow. Stoopin
A Blackjack Bargainer 175
drew the wicker-covered demijohn from under the ta
and filled a tumbler from it. •
"A little corn liquor, Mr. Garvey? Of course; you
are joking about — what you spoke of ? Opens quite a
new market, doesn't it? Feuds, prime, two-fifty to
three. Feuds, slightly damaged — two hundred, I
believe you said, Mr. Garvey ? "
Goree laughed self-consciously.
The mountaineer took the glass Goree handed him,
and drank the whisky without a tremor of the lids of
his staring eyes. The lawyer applauded the feat by a
look of envious admiration. He poured his own drink,
and took it like a drunkard, by gulps, and with shudders
at the smell and taste.
"Two hundred," repeated Garvey. "Thar's the money/*
A sudden passion flared up in Goree's brain. He
struck the table with his fist. One of the bills flipped
over and touched his hand. He flinched as it something
had stung him.
" Do you come to me," he shouted, "seriously with such
a ridiculous, insulting, darned-fool proposition?"
"It's fa'r and squar'," said the squirrel hunter, but he
reached out his hand as if to take back the money; and
then Goree knew that his own flurry of rage had not been
from pride or resentment, but from anger at himself,
knowing that he would set foot in the deeper depths that
were being opened to him. He turned in an instant from
an outraged gentleman to an anxious chafferer recom-
mending his goods.
"Don't be in a hurry, Garvey," he said, his face crimson
and his speech thick. "I accept your p-p-proposition,
though it's dirt cheap at two hundred. A t-trade's all
right when both p-purchasejr and b-buyer are s-satisfied.
Shall I w-wrap it up for you, Mr. Garvey ?"
Garvey rose, and shook out his broadcloth. "Missis
Garvey will be pleased. You air out of it, and it stands
Coltrane and Garvey. Just a scrap ov writin', Mr.
Goree, you bein' a lawyer, to show we traded."
Goree seized a sheet of paper and a pen. The money
was clutched in his moist hand. Everything else sud-
denly seemed to grow trivial and light.
"Bill of sale, by all means. 'Right, title, and interest
in and to' . . . 'forever warrant and ' No,
Garvey, we'll have to leave out that 'defend,'" said
Goree with a loud laugh. "You'll have to defend this
The mountaineer received the amazing screed that the
lawyer handed him, folded it with immense labour, and
placed it carefully in his pocket.
Goree was standing near the window. "Step here,"
he said, raising his finger, "and I'll show you your recently
purchased enemy. There he goes, down the other side
of the street."
The mountaineer crooked his long frame to look
through the window in the direction indicated by the other.
Colonel Abner Coltrane, an erect, portly gentleman of
about fifty, wearing the inevitable long, double-breasted
frock coat of the Southern lawmaker, and an old higfr
A Blackjack Bargainer 177
silk hat, was passing on the opposite sidewalk. ,As
Garvey looked, Goree glanced at his face. If there be
such a thing as a yellow wolf, here was its counterpart.
Garvey snarled as his unhuman eyes followed the moving
figure, disclosing long, amber-coloured fangs.
"Is that him? Why, that's the man who sent me to
the pen'tentiary once!"
"He used to be district attorney," said Goree care*
lessly. "And, by the way, he's a first-class shot."
"I kin hit a squirrel's eye at a hundred yard," said
Garvey. "So that thar's Coltrane! I made a better
trade than I was thinkin'. I'll take keer ov this feud v
Mr. Goree, better'n you ever did!"
He moved toward the door, but lingered there, betray-
ing a slight perplexity.
"Anything else to-day?" inquired Goree with frothy
sarcasm. "Any family traditions, ancestral ghosts, 01
skeletons in the closet ? Prices as low as the lowest."
"Thar was another thing," replied the unmoved squirrel
hunter, "that Missis Garvey was thinkin' of. 'Tain't
so much in my line as t'other, but she wanted partic'lar
that I should inquire, and ef you was willin', 'pay fur it,'
she says, 'fa'r and squar'.' Thar's a buryin' groun',
as you know, Mr. Goree, in the yard of yo' old place,
under the cedars. Them that lies thar is yo' folks what
was killed by the Coltranes. The monyments has the
names on *em. Missis Garvey says a fam'ly buryin'
grow*' is a sho' sign of quality. She says ef we git the
feud, thar's somethin' else ought to go with it. The
names on them monyments is 'Goree,' but they can be
changed to ourn by "
"Go! Go!" screamed Goree, his face turning purple.
He stretched . out both hands toward the mountaineer,
his fingers hooked and shaking. " Go, you ghoul ! Even a
Ch-Chinaman protects the g-graves of his ancestors — go!"
The squirrel hunter slouched out of the door to his
carryall. While he was climbing over the wheel Goree
was collecting; with feverish celerity, the money that had
fallen from his hand to the floor. As the vehicle slowly
turned about, the sheep, with a coat of newly grown
wool, was hurrying, in indecent haste, along the path to
At three o'clock in the morning they brought him back
to his office, shorn and unconscious. The sheriff, the
sportive deputy, the county clerk, and the gay attorney
carried him, the chalk-faced man "from the valley"
acting as escort.
"On the table," said one of them, and they deposited
him there among the litter of his unprofitable books. a r d
"Yance thinks a lot of a pair of deuces when he's
liquored up," sighed the sheriff reflectively.
"Too much," said the gay attorney. "A man has no
business to play poker who drinks as much as he does. I
wonder how much he dropped to-night."
"Close "to two hundred. What I wonder is whar he
got it. Yance ain't had a cent fur over a month, I
A Blackjack Bargainer 179
"Struck a client, maybe. Well, let's get home before
daylight. He'll be all right when he wakes up, except
for a sort of beehive about the cranium."
The gang slipped away through the early morning
twilight. The next eye to gaze upon the miserable Goree
was the orb of day. He peered through the uncurtained
window, first deluging the sleeper in a flood of faint gold,
but soon pouring upon the mottled red of his flesh a
searching, white, summer heat. Goree stirred, half
unconsciously, among the table's debris, and turned his
face from the window. His movement dislodged a heavy
law book, which crashed upon the floor. Opening his
eyes, he saw, bending over him, a man in a black frock
coat. Looking higher, he discovered a well-worn silk
hat, and beneath it the kindly, smooth face of Colonel
A little uncertain of the outcome, the colonel waited for
the other to make some sign of recognition. Not in
twenty years had male members of these two families
faced each other in peace. Goree's eyelids puckered as
he strained his blurred sight toward this visitor, and then
he smiled serenely.
"Have you brought Stella and Lucy over to play?"
he said calmly.
"Do you know me, Yancey?" asked Coltrane.
"Of course I do. You brought me a whip with a
whistle in the end."
So he had — twenty-four years ago; when Yancey's
father was his best friend.
Goree's eyes wandered about the room. The colonel
understood. "Lie still, and I'll bring you some," said he.
There was a pump in the yard at the rear, and Goree
closed his eyes, listening with rapture to the click of its
handle, and the bubbling of the falling stream. Col-
trane brought a pitcher of the cool water, and held it for
him to drink. Presently Goree sat up — a most forlorn
object, his summer suit of flax soiled and crumpled, his
discreditable head tousled and unsteady. He tried to
wave one of his hands toward the colonel.
"Ex-excuse — everything, will you?" he said. "I
must have drunk too much whiskey last night, and gone
to bed on the table." His brows knitted into a puzzled
" Out with the boys a while ? " asked Coltrane kindly.
"No, I went nowhere. I haven't had a dollar to spend
in the last two months. Struck the demijohn too often.
I reckon, as usual."
Colonel Coltrane touched him on the shoulder.
"A little while ago, Yancey," he began, "you asked
me if I had brought Stella and Lucy over to play. You
weren't quite awake then, and must have been dreaming
you were a boy again. You are awake now, and I want
you to listen to me. I have come from Stella and Lucy
to their old playmate, and to my old friend's son. They
know that I am going to bring you home with me, and you
will find them as ready with a welcome as they were in
the old days. I want you to come to my house and stay
until you are yourself again, and as much longer as you
A Blackjack Bargainer 181
will. We heard of your being down in the world, and in
the midst of temptation, and we agreed that you should
come over and play at our house once more. Will you
come, my boy? Will you drop our old family trouble
and come with me?"
" Trouble ! " said Goree, opening his eyes wide. " There
was never any trouble between us that I know of. I'm
sure we've always been the best friends. But, good Lord,
Colonel, how could I go to your home as I am — a
drunken wretch, a miserable, degraded spendthrift and
He lurched from, the table into his armchair, and
began to weep maudlin tears, mingled with genuine drops
of remorse and shame. Coltrane talked to him persist-
ently and reasonably, reminding him of the simple moun-
tain pleasures of which he had once been so fond, and
insisting upon the genuineness of the invitation.
Finally he landed Goree by telling him he was counting
upon his help in the engineering and transportation of a
large amount of felled timber from a high mountain-side
to a waterway. He knew that Goree had once invented
a device for this purpose — a series of slides and chutes —
upon which he had justly prided himself. In an instant
the poor fellow, delighted at the idea of his being of use
to any one, had paper spread upon the table, and was
drawing rapid but pitifully shaky lines in demonstration
of what he could and would do.
The man was sickened of the husks; his prodigal heart
was turning again toward the mountains. His mind was
yet strangely clogged, and his thoughts and memories
were returning to his brain one by one, like carrier pigeons
over a stormy sea. But Coltrane was satisfied with the
progress he had made.
Bethel received the surprise of its existence that after-
noon when a Coltrane and a Goree rode amicably together
through the town. Side by side they rode, out from the
dusty streets and gaping townspeople, down across the
creek bridge, and up toward the mountain. The prodigal
had brushed and washed and combed himself to a more
decent figure, but he was unsteady in the saddle, and he
seemed to be deep in the contemplation of some vexing
problem. Coltrane left him in his mood, relying upon the
influence of changed surroundings to restore his
Once Goree was seized with a shaking fit, and almost
came to a collapse. He had to dismount and rest at the
side of the road. The colonel, foreseeing such a con-
dition, had provided a small flask of whisky for the journey
but when it was offered to him Goree refused it almost
with violence, declaring he would never touch it again.
By and by he was recovered, and went quietly enough
for a mile or two. Then he pulled up his horse suddenly,
and said :
"I lost two hundred dollars last night, playing poker.
Now, where did I get that money ?"
"Take it easy, Yancey. The mountain air will soon
clear it up. We'll go fishing, first thing, at the Pinnacle
Fa" c The trout are jumping there like bullfrogs. We'll
A Blackjack Bargainer 183
cake Stella and Lucy along, and have a picnic on Eagle
Rock. Have you forgotten how a hickory-cured-ham
sandwich tastes, Yancey, to a hungry fisherman ?"
Evidently the colonel did not believe the story of his
lost wealth; so Goree retired again into brooding silence.
By late afternoon they had travelled ten of the twelve
miles between Bethel and Laurel. Half a mile this side
of Laurel lay the old Goree place; a mile or two beyond
the village lived the Coltranes. The road was now steep
and laborious, but the compensations were many. The
tilted aisles of the forest were opulent with leaf and bird
and bloom. The tonic air put to shame the pharma-
copeia. The glades were dark with mossy shade, and
bright with shy rivulets winking from the ferns and
laurels. On the lower side they viewed, framed in the
near foilage, exquisite sketches of the far valley swooning
in its opal haze.
Coltrane was pleased to see that his companion was
yielding to the spell of the hills and woods. For now
they had but to skirt the base of Painter's Cliff; to cross
Elder Branch and mount the hill bevond, and Goree
would have to face the squandered home of his fathers.
Every rock he passed, every tree, every foot of the road-
way, was familiar to him. Though he had forgotten the
woods, they thrilled him like the music of "Home, Sweet
They rounded the cliff, descended into Elder Branch,
and paused there to let the horses drink and splash in
the swift water. On the right was a rail fence that
cornered there, and followed the road and stream. In-
closed by it was the old apple orchard of the home
place; the house was yet concealed by the brow of the
steep hill. Inside and along the fence, pokeberries,
elders, sassafras, and sumac grew high and dense. At
a rustle of their branches, both Goree and Coltrane glanced
up, and saw a long, yellow, wolfish face above the fence,
staring at them with pale, unwinking eyes. The head
quicky disappeared; there was a violent swaying of the
bushes, and an ungainly figure ran up through the apple
orchard in the direction of the house, zigzagging among
"That's Garvey," said Coltrane; "the man you sold
out to. There's no doubt but he's considerably cracked.
I had to send him up for moonshining once, several years
ago, in spite of the fact that I believed him irresponsible.
Why, what's the matter, Yancey ?"
Goree was wiping his forehead, and his face had lost
its colour. "Do I look queer, too?" he asked, trying
to smile. "I'm just remembering a few more things."
Some of the alcohol had evaporated from his brain. "1
recollect now where I got that two hundred dollars."
"Don't think of it," said Coltrane cheerfully. "Later
on we'll figure it all out together."
They rode out of the branch, and when they reached
the foot of the hill Goree stopped again.
"Did you ever suspect I was a very vain kind of fellow,
Colonel?" he asked. "Sort of foolish proud about
A Blackjack Bargainer 185
The colonel's eyes refused to wander to the soiled, sag*
ging suit of flax and the faded slouch hat.
"It seems to me," he replied, mystified, but humouring
him, "I remember a young buck about twenty, with the
tightest coat, the sleekest hair, and the prancingest saddle
horse in the Blue Ridge."
"Right you are," said Goree eagerly. "And it's in
me yet, though it don't show. Oh, I'm as vain as a
turkey gobbler, and as proud as Lucifer. I'm going to
ask you to indulge this weakness of mine in a little
"Speak out, Yancey. We'll create you Duke of
Laurel and Baron of Blue Ridge, if you choose; and you
shall have a feather out of Stella's peacock's tail to wear
in your hat."
"I'm in earnest. In a few minutes we'll pass the house
up there on ^he hill where I was born, and where my
people have lived for nearly a century. Strangers live
there now — and look at me ! I am about to show myself
to them ragged and poverty-stricken, a wastrel and a
beggar. Colonel Coltrane, I'm ashamed to do it. I
want you to let me wear your coat and hat until we are
out of sight beyond. I know you think it a foolish pride,
but I want to make as good a showing as I can when
I pass the old place."
"Now, what does this mean?" said Coltrane to him-
self, as he compared his companion's sane looks and
quiet demeanour with his strange request. But he
was already unbuttoning the coat assenting readily,
as if the fancy were in no wise *to be considered
The coat and hat fitted Goree well. He buttoned
the former about him with a look of satisfaction and
dignity. He and Coltrane were nearly the same size —
rather tall, portly, and erect. Twenty-five years were
between them, but in appearance they might have
been brothers. Goree looked older than his age;
his face was puffy and lined; the colonel had the
smooth, fresh complexion of a temperate liver. He
put on Goree's disreputable old flax coat and faded
"Now," said Goree, taking up the reins, "I'm all
right. I want you to ride about ten feet in the rear as we
go by, Colonel, so that they can get a good look at me.
They'll see I'm no back number yet, by any means. I
guess I'll show up pretty well to them once more, any-
how. Let's ride on."
He set out up the hill at a smart trot, the colonel fol-
lowing, as he had been requested.
Goree sat straight in the saddle, with head erect, but
his eyes were turned to the right, sharply scanning every
shrub and fence and hiding-place in the old homestead
yard. Once he muttered to himself, "Will the crazy
fool try it, or did I dream half of it ? "
It was when he came opposite the little family burying
ground that he saw what he had been looking for — a
puff of white smoke, coming from the thick cedars in one
corner. He toppled so slowly to the left that Coltrane
A Blackjack Bargainer 187
time to urge his horse to that side, and catch him
i one arm.
*he squirrel hunter had not overpraised his aim. He
sent the bullet where he intended, and where Goree
expected that it would pass — through the breast
Colonel Abner Coltrane's black frock coat.
Joree leaned heavily against Coltrane, but he did not
The horses kept pace, side by side, and the Colonel's
1 kept him steady. The little white houses of Laurel
ne through the trees, half a mile away. Goree reached
one hand and groped until it rested upon Coltrane's
jers, which held his bridle.
Good friend," he said, and that was all.
rhus did Yancey Goree, as he rode past his old home,
ke, considering all things* the best showing that was
THE SONG AND THE SERGEANT
HALF a dozen people supping at a table in one a
upper-Broadway all-night restaurants were making
much noise. Three times the manager walked
them with a politely warning glance; but their argui
had waxed too warm to be quelled by a manager's g
It was midnight, and the restaurant was filled 1
patrons from the theatres of that district. Some am
the dispersed audiences must have recognized among
quarrelsome sextet the faces of the players belong^
the Carroll Comedy Company.
Four of the six made up the company. Another i
the author of the comedietta, "A Gay Coquetf
which the quartette of players had been presenting i
fair success at several vaudeville houses in the city. 1
sixth at the table was a person inconsequent in the re
of art, but one at whose bidding many lobsters
Loudly the six maintained their clamorous
No one of the party was silent except when
were stormed from him by the excited ones,
the comedian of "A Gay Coquette." He was a
man with a face even too melancholy for his profess
The Song and the Sergeant, 189
e oral warfare of four immoderate tongues was
ed at Miss Clarice Carroll, the twinkling star of the
aggregation. Excepting the downcast comedian,
embers of the party united in casting upon her with
nence the blame of some momentous misfortune.
times they told her: "It is your fault, Clarice —
you alone who spoilt the scene. It is only of late
you have acted this way. At this rate the sketch
lave to be taken off."
iss Carroll was a match for any four. Gallic ancestry
her a vivacity that could easily mount to fury. Her
\. eyes flashed a scorching denial at her accusers. Her
ler, eloquent arms constantly menaced the tableware.
high, clear soprano voice rose to what would have
i a scream had it not possessed so pure a musical
ity. She hurled back at the attacking four their
inciations in tones sweet, but of too great carrying
er for a Broadway restaurant,
inally they exhausted her patience both as a woman
an artist. She sprang up like a panther, managed
mash half a dozen plates and glasses with one royal
ep of her arm, and defied her critics. They rose and
ngled more loudly. The comedian sighed and looked
rifle sadder and disinterested. The manager came
ping and suggested peace. He was told to go to the
>ular synonym for war so promptly that the affair
;ht have happened at The Hague.
Phus was the manager angered. He made a sign
h his hand and a waiter slipped out of the door. In
twenty minutes the party of six was in a police
facing a grizzled and philosophical desk sergeant
"Disorderly conduct in a restaurant," said the
man who had brought the party in.
The author of " A Gay Coquette " stepped to the
He woreVnose-glasses and evening clothes, even if his
had been tans before they met the patent-leather
"Mr. Sergeant," said he, out of his throat, like
Irving, " I would like to protest against this arrest,
company of actors who are performing in a little
that I have written, in company with a friend and
were having a little supper. We became deeply int
in the discussion as to which one of the cast is r<
for a scene in the sketch that lately has fallen so flat
the piece is about to become a failure. We may
been rather noisy and intolerant of interruption bv
restaurant people; but the matter was of cons*
importance to all of us. You see that we are sober
are not the kind of people who desire to raise dist
I hope that the case will not be pressed and that we
be allowed to go."
Who makes the charge?" asked the sergeant
Me," said a white-aproned voice in the rear,
restaurant sent me to. De gang was raisin' a roi
house and breakin' dishes."
The dishes were paid for," said the playwii
They were not broken purposely. In her anger, bea
we remonstrated with her for spoiling the scene, Miss -
The Song and the Sergeant 191
;'s not true, sergeant," cried the clear voice of Miss
ze Carroll. In a long coat of tan silk and a red-
ed hat, she bounded before the desk.
;'s not my fault," she cried indignantly. "How
they say such a thing! I've played the title role
since it was staged, and if you want to know who made
success, ark the public — that's all."
Vhat Miss Carroll says is true in part," said the
>r. " For five months the comedietta was a drawing
in the best houses. But during the last two weeks
3 lost favour. There is one scene in it in which Miss
oil made a big hit. Now she hardly gets a hand out
She spoils it by acting it entirely different from
t is not my fault," reiterated the actress,
rhere are only two of you on in the scene," argued
>lay wright hotly, "you and Delmars, here "
rhen it's his fault," declared Miss Carroll, with a
ning glance of scorn from her dark eyes. The
edian caught it, and gazed with increased melancholy
le panels of the sergeant's desk,
he night was a dull one in that particular police station,
he sergeant's long-blunted curiosity awoke a little,
['ve heard you," he said to the author. And then
addressed the thin-faced and ascetic-looking lady
he company who played "Aunt Turnip-top" in the
Who do you think spoils the scene you are fussing
ut?" he asked.
"I'ni no knocker," said that lady, "and evenl
knows it. So, when I say that Clarice falls down e
time in that scene I'm judging her art and not he
She was great in it once. She does it something i
now. It'll dope the show if she keeps it up."
The sergeant looked at the comedian.
"You and the lady have this scene together, I he
stand. I suppose there's no use asking you whi<4
of you queers it?"
The comedian avoided the direct rays from the
fixed stars of Miss Carroll's eyes.
"I don't know," he said, looking down at his pi
"Are you one of the actors?" asked the sergear
a dwarfish youth with a middle-aged face.
"Why, say!" replied the last Thespian witness, **
don't notice any tin spear in my hands, do you? } .
haven't heard me shout: 'See, the Emperor conies !' s
I've been in here, have you ? I guess I'm on the s
long enough for 'em not to start a panic by mistaking:
for a thin curl of smoke rising above the footlights/ 1
"In your opinion, if you've got one," said the sergej
"is the frost that gathers on the scene in quest
the work of the lady or the gentleman who ta
part in it?"
The middle-aged youth looked pained.
"I regret to say," he answered, "that Miss Cas
seems to have lost her grip on that scene. She's all ri
in the rest of the play, but — but I tell you, sergeant, :
The Song and the Sergeant 193
i can do it — she has done it equal to any of 'em — and
she can do it again."
Miss Carroll ran forward, glowing and palpitating.
"Thank you, Jimmy, for the first good word I've had
in many a day," .she cried. And then she turned her
eager face toward the desk.
"I'll show you, sergeant, whether I am to blame. I'll
i show them whether I can do that same. Come, Mr.
Delmars, let us begin. You will let us, won't you,
"How long will it take ?" asked the sergeant, dubiously,
i "Eight minutes," said the playwright. "The entire
play consumes hut thirty."
i "You may go ahead," said the sergeant. "Most of
you seem to side against the little lady. Maybe she had
i a right to crack up a saucer or two in that restaurant.
i We'll see how she does the turn before we take that up."
The matron of the police station had been standing
near, listening to the singular argument. She came
nigher and stood near the sergeant's chair. Two 01
three of the reserves strolled in, big and yawning.
" Before beginning the scene," said the playwright, " and
i assuming that you have not seen a production of 'A Gay
Coquette,' I will make a brief but necessary explanation.
It is a musical-farce-comedy — burlesque-comedietta.
As the title implies, Miss Carroll's r61e is that, of a gay,
| rollicking, mischievous, heartless coquette. She sustains
that character throughout the entire comedy part of the
i production. And I have designed the extravaganza
features so that she may preserve and present the same
"Now, the scene in which we take exception to Miss
Carroll's acting is called the 'gorilla dance.' She is
costumed to represent a wood nymph, and there is a great
song-and-dance scene with a gorilla — played by Mr.
Delmars, the comedian. A tropical-forest stage is set.
"That used to get four and five recalls. The main
thing was the acting and the dance — it was the funniest
thing in New York for five months. Delmars's song,
'I'll Woo Thee .to My Sylvan Home,' while he and Miss
Carroll were cutting hide-and-seek capers among the
tropical plants, was a winner."
"What's the trouble with the scene now?" asked the
"Miss Carroll spoils it right in the middle of it," said
the playwright wrathfully.
With a wide gesture of her ever-moving arms the
actress waved back the little group of spectators, leaving
a space in front of the desk for the scene of her vindication
or fall. Then she whipped off her long tan cloak and
tossed it across the arm of the policeman who still stood
officially among them.
Miss Carroll had gone to supper well cloaked, but
in the costume of the tropic wood nymph. A skirt of
fern leaves touched her knee; she was like a humming
bird — green and golden and purple.
And then she danced a fluttering, fantastic dance, so
agile and light and mazy in her steps that the other three
The Song and the Sergeant 195
members of the Carroll Comedy Company broke into
applause at the art of it.
And at the proper time Delmars leaped out at her
side, mimicking the uncouth, hideous bounds of the
gorilla so funnily that the grizzled sergeant himself gave
a short laugh like the closing of a padlock. They danced
together the gorilla dance, and won a hand from all.
Then began the most fantastic part of the scene —
the wooing of the nymph by the gorilla. It was a kind
of dance itself — eccentric and prankish, with the nymph
in coquettish and seductive retreat, followed by the gorilla
as he sang "I'll Woo Thee to My Sylvan Home."
The song was a lyric of merit. The words were non-
sense, as befitted the play, but the music was worthy of
something bettor. Delmars struck into it in a rich tenor
that owned a quality that shamed the flippant words.
During one verse of the song the wood nymph per-
formed the grotesque evolutions designed for the scene.
At the middle of the second verse she stood still, with a
strange look on her face, seeming to gaze dreamily into
the depths of the scenic forest. The gorilla's last leap
had brought him to her feet, and there he knelt, holding
her hand, until he had finished the haunting lyric that
was set in the absurd comedy like a diamond in a piece
When Delmars ceased Miss Carroll started, and
covered a sudden flow of tears with both hands.
"There!" cried the playwright, gesticulating with
violence; "there you have it, sergeant. For two weeks
she has spoiled that scene in just that manner at every
performance. I have begged her to consider that it is
not Ophelia or Juliet that she is playing. Do you wonder
now at our impatience? Tears for the gorilla song!
The play is lost!"
Out of her bewitchment, whatever it was, the wood
nymph flared suddenly, and pointed a desperate finger
"It is you — you who have done this," she cried
wildly. "You never sang that song that way until lately.
It is your doing."
"I give it up," said the sergeant.
And then the gray-haired matron of the police station
came forward from behind the sergeant's chair.
"Must an old woman teach you all?" she said. She
went up to Mips Carroll and took her hand.
"The man's wearing his heart out for you, my dear.
Couldn't you tell it the first note you heard him sing?
All of his monkey flip-flops wouldn't have kept it
from me. Must you be deaf as well as blind ? That's
why you couldn't act your part, child. Do you
love him or must he be a gorilla for the rest of his
Miss Carroll whirled around and caught Delmars
with a lightning glance of her eye. He came toward her,
"Did you hear, Mr. Delmars?" she asked, with a
"I did," said the comedian. "It is true. I didn't
The Song and the Sergeant 19?
think there was any use. I tried to let you know with
"Silly!" said the matron; "why didn't you speak?"
"No, no," cried the wood nymph, "his way was the
best. I didn't know, but — it was just what I wanted,
She sprang like a green grasshopper; and the comedian
opened his arms, and — smiled.
"Get out of this," roared the desk sergeant to the
waiting waiter from the restaurant. "There's nothing
doing here for you."
ONE DOLLARS WORTH
xHE judge of the United States court of the district
lying along the Rio Grande border found the following
letter one morning in his mail:
When you sent me up for four years you made a talk.
Among other hard things, you called me a rattlesnake.
Maybe I am one — anyhow, you hear me rattling now.
One year after I got to the pen, my daughter died of —
well, they said it was poverty and the disgrace together.
You've got a daughter, Judge, and I'm going to make
you know how it feels to lose one. And I'm going to
bite that district attorney that spoke against me. I'm
free now, and I guess I've turned to rattlesnake all right.
I feel like one. I don't say much, but this is my rattle.
Look out when I strike.
Judge Derwent threw the letter carelessly aside. It
was nothing new to receive such epistles from desperate
men whom he had been called upon to judge. He felt
no alarm. Later on he showed the letter to Littlefield,
the young district attorney, for Littlefield's name was-
One Dollar's Worth 199
included in the threat, and the judge was punctilious in
matters between himself and his fellow men.
Littlefield honoured the rattle of the writer, as far as
it concerned himself, with a smile of contempt; but he
frowned a little over the reference to the Judge's daughter,
for he and Nancy Derwent were \o be married in the
Littlefield went to the clerk of the court and looked
over the records with him. They decided that the letter
might have been sent by Mexico Sam, a half-breed border
desperado who had been imprisoned for manslaughter
four years before. Then official duties crowded the mat-
ter from his mind, and the rattle of the revengeful serpent
Court was in session at Brownsville. Most of the cases
to be tried were charges of smuggling, counterfeiting,
post-office robberies, and violations qf Federal laws along
the border. One case was that of a young Mexican,
Rafael Ortiz, who had been rounded up by a clever
deputy marshal in the act of passing a counterfeit silver
dollar. He had been suspected of many such deviations
from rectitude, but this was the first time that anything
provable had been fixed upon him. Ortiz languished
eozily in jail, smoking brown cigarettes and waiting for
trial. Kilpatrick, the deputy, brought the counterfeit
dollar and handed it to the district attorney in his office
in the court-house. The deputy and a reputable druggist
were prepared to swear that Ortiz paid for a bottle of
medicine with it. The coin was a poor counterfeit, soft,
dull-looking, and made principally of lead. It was the
day before the morning on which the docket would reach
the case of Ortiz, and the district attorney was preparing
himself for trial.
"Not much need of having in high-priced experts to
prove the coin's queer, is there, Kil ? " smiled Littlefield,
as he thumped the dollar down upon the table, where it
fell with no more ring than would have come from a lump
"I guess the Greaser's as good as behind the bars,"
said the deputy, easing up his holsters. "You've got
him dead. If it had been just one time, these Mexicans
can't tell good money from bad; but this little yaller
rascal belongs to a gang of counterfeiters, I know. This
is the first time I've been able to catch him doing the trick.
He's got a girl down there in them Mexican jacals od
the river bank. I seen her one day when I was watching
him. She's as pretty as a red heifer in a flower bed."
Littlefield shoved the counterfeit dollar into his pocket,
and slipped his memoranda of the case into an envelope.
Just then a bright, winsome face, as frank and jolly as
a boy's, appeared in the doorway, and in walked Nancy
" Oh, Bob, didn't court adjourn at twelve to-day until
to-morrow?" she asked of Littlefield.
" It did," said the district attorney, " and I'm very glad
of it. I've got a lot of rulings to look up, and "
" Now, that's just like you. I wonder you and father
don't turn to law books or rulings or something! I
One Dollar's Worth 201
want you to take me out plover-shooting this afternoon.
Long Prairie is just alive with them. Don't say no,
please! I want to try my new twelve-bore hammerless.
I've sent to the livery stable to engage Fly and Bess for
the buckboard ; they stand fire so nicely. I was sure you
They were to be married in the fall. The glamour was
at its height. The plovers won the day — or, rather, the
afternoon — over the calf-bound authorities. Littlefield
began to put his papers away.
There was a knock at the door. Kilpatrick answered
it. A beautiful, dark-eyed girl with a skin tinged with
the faintest lemon colour walked into the room. A black
shawl was thrown over her head and wound once around
She began to talk in Spanish, a voluble, mournful
stream of melancholy music. .Littlefield did not under-
stand Spanish. The deputy did, and he translated her
talk by portions, at intervals holding up his hand to check
the flow of her words.
"She came to see you, Mr. Littlefield. Her name's
Joya Trevifias. She wants to see you about — well,
she's mixed up with that Rafael Ortiz. She's his — she's
his girl. She says he's innocent. She says she made
the money and got him to pass it. Don't you believe
her, Mr. Littlefield. That's the way with these Mexi-
can girls; they'll lie, steal, or kill for a fellow when they
get stuck on him. Never trust a woman that's in love!"
Nancy Derwent's indignant exclamation caused the
deputy to flounder for a moment in attempting to explain
that he had misquoted his own sentiments, and then he
went on with the translation:
"She says she's willing to take his place in the jail if
you'll let him out. She says she was down sick with the
fever, and the doctor said she'd die if she didn't have
medicine. That's why he passed the lead dollar on the
drug store. She says it saved her life. This Rafaec
seems to be her honey, all right; there's a lot of stuff in
her talk about love and such things that you don't want to
It was an old story to the district attorney.
" Tell her," said he, " that I can do nothing. The case
comes up in the morning, and he will have to make his
fight before the court."
Nancy Derwent was not so hardened. She was look-
ing with sympathetic interest at Joya Trevinas and at
Littlefield alternately. The deputy repeated the dis-
trict attorney's words to the girl. She spoke a sentence
or two in a low voice, pulled her shawl closely about her
face, and left the room.
What did she say then ? " asked the district attorney.
Nothing special," said the deputy. " She said : ' If
the life of the one' — let's see how it went — * Si la vida
de ella d quien tu amas — if the life of the girl you love is
ever in danger, remember Rafael Ortiz.' "
Kilpatrick strolled out through the corridor in the
direction of the marshal's office.
One Dollar's Worth 203
" Can't you do anything for them, Bob ? " asked Nancy.
"It's such a. little thing — just one counterfeit dollar —
to ruin the happiness of two lives! She was in danger
of death, and he did it to save her. Doesn't the law know
the feeling of pity?"
"It hasn't a place in jurisprudence, Nan," said Little-
field, "especially in re the district attorney's duty. I'll
promise you that the prosecution will not be vindictive;
but the man is as good as convicted when the case is called.
Witnesses will swear to his passing the bad dollar which
I have in my pocket at this moment as * Exhibit A. ' There
are no Mexicans on the jury, and it will vote Mr. Greaser
guilty without leaving the box."
The plover-shooting was fine that afternoon, and in
the excitement of the sport the case of Rafael and the
grief of Joya Trevifias was forgotten. The district attor-
ney and Nancy Derwent drove out from the town three
miles along a smooth, grassy road, and then struck across
a rolling prairie toward a heavy line of timber on Piedra
Creek. Beyond this creek lay Long Prairie, the favourite
haunt of the plover. As they were nearing the creek
they heard the galloping of *, horse to # their right, and
saw a man with black hair and a swarthy face riding
toward the woods at a tangent, as if he had come up
"I've seen that fellow somewhere," said Litilefield, who
had a memory for faces, " but I can't exactly place him.
Some ranchman, I suppose, taking a short cut home."
They spent an hour on Long Prairie, shooting from
the buckboard. Nancy Derwent, an active, outdoor
Western girl, was pleased with her twelve-bore. She
had bagged within two brace of her companion's score.
They started homeward at a gentle trot. When within
a hundred yards of Piedra Creek a man rode out of the
timber directly toward them.
"It looks like the man we saw coming over," remarked
As the distance between them lessened, the district
attorney suddenly pulled up his team sharply, with his
eyes fixed upon the advancing horseman. That individ-
ual had drawn a Winchester from its scabbard on his
saddle and thrown it over his arm.
"Now I know you, Mexico Sam!" muttered Littlefield
to himself. "It was you who shook your rattles in that
Mexico Sam did not leave things long in doubt. He
had a nice eye in all matters relating to firearms, so when
he was within good rifle range, but outside of danger
from No. 8' shot, he threw up his Winchester and opened
fire upon the occupants of the buckboard.
The first shot cracked the back of the seat within the
two-inch space between the shoulders of Littlefield and
Miss Derwent. The next went through the dashboard
and Littlefield's trouser leg.
The district attorney hustled Nancy out of the buck-
board to the ground. She was a little pale, but asked no
questions. She had the frontier instinct that accepts
One Dollar's Worth 205
conditions in an emergency without superfluous argument.
They kept their guns fn hand, and Littlefield hastily
gathered some handf uls of cartridges from the pasteboard
box on the seat and crowded them into his pockets.
"Keep behind the horses, Nan," he commanded.
" That fellow is a ruffian I sent to prison once. He's
trying to get even. He knows our shot won't hurt him
at that distance."
"All right, Bob," said Nancy steadily. "I'm not
afraid. But you come close, too. Whoa, Bess; stand
She stroked Bess's mane. Littlefield stood with his
gun ready, praying that the desperado would come within
But Mexico Sam was playing his vendetta along safe
lines. He was a bird erf different feather from the plover.
His accurate eye drew an imaginary line of circumference
around the area of danger from bird-shot, and upon this
line he rode. His horse wheeled to the right, and as his
victims rounded to the safe Side of their equine breast-
work he sent a ball through the district attorney's hat.
Once he miscalculated in making a detour, and over-
stepped his margin. Littlefield's gun flashed, and
Mexico Sam ducked his head to the harmless patter of the
shot. A few of them stung his horse, which pranced
promptly back to the safety line.
The desperado fired again. »A little cry came from
Nancy Derwent. Littlefield whirled, with blazing eyes,
and saw the blood trickling down her cheek.
"I'm not hurt, Bob — only a splinter struck mc I
think he hit one of the wheel-spokes."
"Lord!" groaned Littlefield. "If I only had a chare
The ruffian got his horse still, and took careful ab
Ply gave a snort and fell in the harness, struck in tfe
neck. Bess, now disabused of the idea that plover wei»
being fired at, broke her traces and galloped wildl
away. Mexican Sam sent a ball neatly through tk
fulness of Nancy Derwent's shooting jacket.
"Lie down — lie down!" snapped Littlefield, "Close
to the horse — flat on the ground — so." He almo*
threw her upon the grass against the back of the recuic
bent Fly. Oddly enough, at that moment the words o*
the Mexican girl returned to his mind:
"If the life of the girl you love is ever in danger, remem-
ber Rafael Ortiz."
Littlefield uttered an exclamation.
"Open fire on him, Nan, across the horse's bad
Fire as fast as you can! You can't hurt him, but kee:
him dodging shot for one minute while I try to worki
Nancy gave a quick glance at Littlefield, and saw him
take out his pocket-knife and open it. Then she turned
her face to obey orders, keeping up a rapid fire at the
Mexico Sam waited* patiently until this innocuous
fusillade ceased. He had plenty of time, and he did not
care to risk the chance of a bird-shot in his eye when it
One Dollar's Worth 20?
could be avoided by a little caution. He pulled his
heavy Stetson low down over his face until the shots ceased.
Then he drew a little nearer, and fired with careful aim
at what he could see of his \ictims above the fallen horse.
Neither of them moved. He urged his horse a few
steps nearer. He saw the district attorney rise to one
knee and deliberately level his shotgun. He pulled his
Lat down and awaited the harmless rattle of the tiny
The shotgun blazed with a heavy report. Mexico
Sam sighed, turned limp all over, and slowly fell from
his horse — a dead rattlesnake.
At ten o'clock the next morning court opened, and the
ease of the United States versus Rafael Ortiz was called.
The district attorney, with his arm in a sling, rose and
addressed the court.
"May it please your honour," he said, "I desire tc
enter a nolle pros, in this case. Even though the defend-
ant should be guilty, there is not sufficient evidence in the
hands of the government to secure a conviction. The
piece of counterfeit coin upon the identity of which the
case was built is not now available as evidence. I ask,
therefore, that the case be stricken off."
At the noon recess Kilpatrick strolled into the district
"I've just been down to take a squint at old Mexico
Sam," said the deputy. "They've got him laid out.
Old Mexico was a tough outfit, I reckon. The boy.-
was wonderin' down there what you shot him with. Some
said it must have been nails. I never see a gun carry
anything to make holes like he had."
"I shot him," said the district attorney, "with Exhibit
A of your counterfeiting case. Lucky thing for me —
and somebody else — that it was as bad money as it was!
It sliced up into slugs very nicely. Say, Kil, can't you
go down to the jacals and find where that Mexican girl
lives? Miss Derwent wants to know."
A NEWSPAPER STORY
AT 8 a. M. it lay on Giuseppi's news-stand, still damp
from the presses. Giuseppi, with the cunning of his ilk,
philandered on the opposite corner, leaving his patrons
to help themselves, no doubt on a theory related to the
hypothesis of the watched pot.
This particular newspaper was, according to its custom
and design, an educator, a guide, a monitor, a champion
and a household counsellor and vade mecum.
From its many excellencies might be selected three
editorials. One was in simple and chaste but illuminat-
ing language directed to parents and teachers, depreca-
ting corporal punishment for children.
Another was an accusive and significant warning
addressed to a notorious labour leader who was on the
point of instigating his clients to a troublesome strike.
The third was an eloquent demand that* the police
force be sustained and aided in everything that tended
to increase its efficiency as public guardians and servants
Besides these more important chidings and requisitions
upon the store of good citizenship was a wise prescription
or form of procedure laid out by the editor of the heart-
to-heart column in the specific case of a young man who
had complained of the obduracy of his lady love, teaching
him how he might win her.
Again, there was, on the beauty page, a complete
answer to a young lady inquirer who desired admonition
toward the securing of bright eyes, rosy cheeks and a
One other item requiring special cognizance was a
brief "personal," running thus:
Dear Jack: — Forgive me. You were right. Meet me
corner Madison and — th at 8:30 this morning. We
leave at noon.
At 8 o'clock a yoiing man with a haggard look and the
feverish gleam of unrest in his eye dropped a penny and
picked up the top paper as he passed Giuseppi's stand. .
A sleepless night had left him a late riser. There was
an office to be reached by nine, and a shave and a hasty
cup of coffee to be crowded into the interval.
He visited his barber shop and then hurried on his
way. He pocketed his paper, meditating a belated
perusal of ft at the luncheon hour. At the next corner
it fell from his pocket, carrying with it his pair of new
gloves. Three blocks he walked, missed the gloves and
turned back fuming.
Just on the half-hour he reached the corner where
lay the gloves and the paper. But he strangely ignored
that which he had come to seek. He was holding two
**ttle hands as tightly as ever he could and looking
A Newspaper Story 211
Into two penitent brown eyes, while joy rioted in his
"Dear Jack," she said, "I knew you would be here
"I wonder what she means by that," he was saying
to himself; "but it's all right, it's all right."
A big wind puffed out of the west, picked up the paper
from the sidewalk, opened it out and sent it flying and
whirling down a side street. Up that street was driving
a skittish bay to a spider-wheel buggy, the young man
who had written to the heart-to-heart editor for a recipe
that he might win her for whom he sighed.
The wind, with a prankish flurry, flapped the flying
newspaper against the face of the skittish bay. There
was a lengthened streak of bay mingled with the red of
running gear that stretched itself out for four blocks.
Then a water-hydrant played its part in the cosmogony,
Ihe buggy became matchwood as foreordained, and the
driver rested very quietly where he had been flung on the
asphalt in front of a certain brownstone mansion.
They came out and had him inside very promptly. And
there was one who made herself a pillow for his head,
and cared for no curious eyes, bending over and saying,
" Oh, it was you ; it was you all the time, Bobby ! Couldn't
you see it ? And if you die, why, so must I, and "
But in all this wind we must hurry to keep in touch
with our paper.
Policeman O'Brine arrested it as a character dangerous
to traffic. Straightening its dishevelled leaves with his
big, slow fingers, he stood a few feet from the family
entrance of the Shandon Bells Cafe. One headline he
spelled out ponderously: "The Papers to the Front in a
Move to Help the Police."
But, whisht! The voice of Danny, the head bartender,
through the crack of the door: "Here's a nip for ye, Mike,
Behind the widespread, amicable columns of the press
Policeman O'Brine receives swiftly his nip of the real
stuff. He moves away, stalwart, refreshed, fortified,
to his duties. Might not the editor man view with pride
the early, the spiritual, the literal fruit that had blessed
Policeman . O'Brine folded the paper and poked it
playfully ur der the arm of a small boy that was passing.
That boy was named Johnny, and he took the paper
home with him. His sister was named Gladys, and
she had written to the beauty editor of the paper asking
for tne practicable touchstone of beauty. That was
weeks ago, and she had ceased to look for an answer.
Gladys was a pale girl, with dull eyes and a discontented
expression. She was dressing to go up to the avenue to
get some braid. Beneath her skirt she pinned two leaves
of the paper Johnny had brought. When she walked the
rustling sound was an exact imitation of the real thing.
On the street she met the Brown girl from the flat
below and stopped to talk. The Brown girl turned green.
Only silk at $5 a yard could make the sound that she
heard when Gladys moved. The Brown girl, consumed
A Newspaper Story 213
oy jealousy, said something spiteful and went he* way,
with pinched lips.
Gladys proceeded toward the avenue. Her eyes now
sparkled like jagerfonteins. A rosy bloom visited her
cheeks; a triumphant, subtle, vivifying smile transfigured
her face. She was beautiful. Could the beauty editor
have seen her then! There was something in her answer
in the paper, I believe, about cultivating kind feelings
toward others in order to make plain features attractive.
The labour leader against whom the paper's solemn
and weighty editorial injunction was laid was the father
of Gladys and Johnny. He picked up the remains of
the journal from which Gladys had ravished a cosmetic
of silken sounds. The editorial did not come under his
eye, but instead it was greeted by one of those ingenious
and specious puzzle problems that enthrall alike the
simpleton and the sage.
The labour leader tore off half of the page, provided
himself with table, pencil and paper and glued himself
to his puzzle.
Three hours later, after waiting vainly for him at the
appointed place, other more conservative leaders declared
and ruled in favour of arbitration, and the strike with its
attendant dangers was averted. Subsequent editions
of the paper referred, in coloured inks, to the clarion tone
of its successful denunciation pf the labour leader's
The remaining leaves of the active journal also went
loyally to the proving of its potency.
When Johnny returned from school he sought a secluded
spot and removed the missing columns from the inside of
his clothing, where they had been artfully distributed so as
to successfully defend such areas as are generally attacked
during scholastic castigations. Johnny attended a private
school and had had trouble with his teacher. As has
been said, there was an excellent editorial against corporal
punishment in that morning's issue, and no doubt it had
After this can any one doubt the power of the press ?
AT TEN o'clock p. m. Felicia, the maid, left by the
basement door with the policeman to get a raspberry
phosphate around the corner. She detested the police-
man and objected earnestly to the arrangement. She
pointed out, not unreasonably, that she might have been
allowed to fall asleep over one of St. George Rathbone's
novels on the third floor, but she was overruled. Rasp-
berries and cops were not created for nothing.
The burglar got into the house without much difficulty;
because we must have action and not too much descrip-
tion in a 2,000-word story.
In the dining room he opened the slide of his dark
lantern. With a brace and centrebit he began to bore
into the lock of the silver-closet.
Suddenly a click was heard. The room was flooded
with electric light. The dark velvet portieres parted to
admit a fair-haired boy of eight in pink pajamas, bearing
a bottle of olive oil in his hand.
"Are you a burglar?" he asked, in a sweet, childish
"Listen to that," exclaimed the man, in a hoarse voice.
"Am I a burglar? Wot do you suppose I have a three-
days' growth of bristly beard on my face for, and a cap
with flaps? Give me the oil, quick, and let me grease
the bit, so I won't wake up your mamma, who is lying
down with a headache, and left you in charge of Felicia
who has been faithless to her trust."
"Oh, dear," said Tommy, with a sigh. "I thought
you would be more up-to-date. This oil is for the saW
when I bring lunch from the pantry for you. Ami
mamma and papa have gone to the Metropolitan to hear
De Reszke. But that isn't my fault. It only shows how
long the story has been knocking around among the
editors. If the author had been wise he'd have changed
it to Caruso in the proofs."
"Be quiet," hissed the burglar, under his breath. "If
you raise an alarm I'll wring your neck like a rabbit's."
"Like a chicken's," corrected Toinmy. "You had
that wrong. You don't wring rabbits' necks."
"Aren't you afraid of me?" asked the burglar.
"You know I'm not," answered Tommy. "Don't
you suppose I know fact from fiction. If this wasn't a
story I'd yell like an Indian when I saw you; and you'd
probably tumble downstairs and get pinched on the
"I see," said the burglar, "that you're on to your
job. Go on with the performance."
Tommy seated himself in an armchair and drew his
toes up under him.
"Why do you go around robbing strangers, Mr. Buig-
lar? Have you no friends?"
Tommy's Burglar 217
*'I see what you're driving at," said the burglar, with
, dark frown. "It's the same old story. Your innocence
,nd childish insouciance is going to lead me back into
lii honest life. Every time I crack a crib where there's
i kid around, it happens."
*' Would you mind gazing with wolfish eyes at the plate
>f cold beef that the butler has left on the dining table ?"
said Tommy. "I'm afraid it's growing late."
The burglar accommodated.
"Poor man," said Tommy. "You must be hungry.
If you will please stand in a listless attitude I will get you
something- to eat."
The boy brought a roast chicken, a jar of marmalade
and a bottle of wine from the pantry. The burglar
seized a knife and fork sullenly.
"It's only been an hour," he grumbled, "since I had a
lobster and a pint of musty ale up on Broadway. I wish
these story writers would let a fellow have a pepsin tablet,
anyhow, between feeds."
"My papa writes books," remarked Tommy.
The burglar jumped to his feet quickly.
"You said he had gone to the opera," he hissed, hoarsely
and with immediate suspicion.
"I ought to have explained," said Tommy. "He
didn't buy the tickets." The burglar sat again and toyed
with the wishbone.
"Whv do you burgle houses?" asked the boy,
"Because," replied the burglar, with a sudden flow of
tears. "God bless my little brown-haired boy Bessie
"Ah," said Tommy, wrinkling his nose, "you got that
answer in the wrong place. You want to tell your hard-
luck story before you pull out the child stop."
"Oh, yes," said the burglar, "I forgot. Well, once
I lived in Milwaukee, and —
vcu. in ivj.iiwauj&ee, auu "
Take the silver," said Tommy, rising from his chair.
"Hold on," said the burglar. "But I moved away.
I could find no other employment. For a while I man-
aged to support my wife and child by passing confederate
money; but, alas! I was forced to give that up because it
did not belong to the union. I became desperate and a
"Have you ever fallen into the hands of the police?"
"I said 'burglar,' not 'beggar,'" answered the
"After you finish your lunch," said Tommy, "and
experience the usual change of heart, how shall we wind
up the story?"
"Suppose," said the burglar, thoughtfully, "that Tony
Pastor turns out earlier than usual to-night, and your
father gets in from 'Parsifal' at 10.30. I am thoroughly
repentant because you have made me think of my own
little boy Bessie, and "
"Say," said Tommy, "haven't you got that wrong?"
"Not on your coloured crayon drawings by B. Coiy ^
Kilvert." said the burglar. "It's always a Bessie that
Tommy 9 8 Burglar 219
I have at home, artlessly prattling to the pale-cheeked
burglar's bride. As I was saying, your father opens the
front door just as I am departing with admonitions and
sandwiches that you have wrapped up for me. Upon
recognizing me as an old Harvard classmate he starts
back in "
"Not in surprise?" interrupted Tommy, with wide-
"He starts back in the doorway," continued the burglar.
And then he rose to his feet and began to shout: "Rah,
rah, rah! rah, rah, rah! rah, rah, rah!"
"Well," said Tommy, wonderingly, "that's the first
time I ever knew a burglar to give a college yell when he
was burglarizing a house, even in a story."
"That's one on you," said the burglar, with a laugh.
"I was practising the dramatization. If this is put on
the stage that college touch is about the only thing that
will make it go."
Tommy looked his admiration.
You're on, all right," he said.
And there's another mistake you've made," said the
burglar. "You should have gone some time ago and
brought me the $9 gold piece your mother gave you on
your birthday to take to Bessie."
"But she didn't give it to me to take to Bessie," said
"Come, come!" said the burglar, sternly. "It's not
aice of you to take advantage because the story contains
an ambiguous sentence. You know what I mean. It's
mighty little I get out of these fictional jobs, anyhow. I
lose all the loot, and I have to reform every time; and all
the swag I'm allowed is the blamed little fol-de-rols and
luck-pieces that you kids hand over. Why, in one story,
all I got was a kiss from a little girl who came in on me
when I was opening a safe. And it tasted of molasses
candy, too. I've a good notion to tie this table cover
over your head and keep on into the silver-closet."
*"Oh, no, you haven't," said Tommy, wrapping his
arms around his knees. "Because if you did no editor
would buy the story. You know you've got to preserve
"So've you," said the burglar, rather glumly.
"Instead of sitting here talking impudence and taking the
bread out of a poor man's mouth, what you'd like to be
doing is hiding under the bed and screeching at the top
of your voice."
"You're right, old man," said Tommy, heartily. "I
wonder what they make us do it for ? I think the
S. P. C. C. ought to interfere. I'm sure it's neither
agreeable nor usual for a kid of my age to butt in when a
full-grown burglar is at work and offer him a red sled and
& pair of skates not to awaken his sick mother. And look
how they make the burglars act! You'd think editors
would know — but what's the use ? "
The burglar wiped his hands on the tablecloth and
airose with a yawn.
"Well, let's get through with it," he said. "God
bless you, my little boy t you have saved a man from
Tommy's Burglar 221
committing a crime this night. Bessie shall pray for you
as soon as I get home and give her her orders. I shall
never burglarize another house — at least not until the
June magazines are out. It'll be your little sister's turn
then to run in on me while I am abstracting the U. S. 4
per cent, from the tea urn and buy me off with her coral
necklace and a falsetto kiss."
"You haven't got all the kicks coming to you," sighed
Tommy, crawling out of his chair. "Think of the sleep
I'm losing. But it's tough on both of us, old man. I wish
you could get out of the story and really rob somebody.
Maybe you'll have the chance if they dramatize us."
"Never!" said the burglar, gloomily. "Between the
box office and my better impulses that your leading juven-
iles are supposed to awaken and the magazines that pay
on publication, I guess I'll always be broke."
"I'm sorry," said Tommy, sympathetically. "But I
can't help myself any more than you can. It's one of the
canons of household fiction that no burglar shall be suc-
cessful. The burglar must be foiled by a kid like me, or
by a young lady heroine, or at the last moment by his old
pal, Red Mike, who recognizes the house as one in which
he used to be the coachman. You have got the worst
end of it in any kind of a story."
"Well, I suppose I must be clearing out now," said
the burglar, taking up his lantern and bracebit.
"You have to take the rest of this chicken and the
bottle of wine with you for Bessie and her mother," said
"But confound it," exclaimed the burglar, in an annoyed
tone, "they don't want it. I've got five cases of Ch&teau
de Beychsvelle at home that was bottled in 1853. That
claret of yours is corked. And you couldn't get either
of them to look at a chicken unless it was stewed in
champagne. You know, after I get out of the story I
don't have so many limitations. I make a turn now and
"Yes, but you must take them," said Tommy, loading
his arms with the bundles.
"Bless you, young master!" recited the burglar,
obedient. "Second-Story Saul will never forget you.
And now hurry and let me^out, kid. Our 2,000 words
must be nearly up."
Tommy led the way through the hall toward the front
door. Suddenly the burglar stopped and called to him
softly: "Ain't there a cop out there in front somewhere
sparking the girl?"
"Yes," said Tommy, "but what "
"I'm afraid he'll catch me," said the burglar. "You
mustn't forget that this is fiction."
"Great head!" said Tommy, turning. "Come out
by the back door."
A CHAPARRAL CHRISTMAS GIFT
THE original cause of the trouble was about twenty
years in growing.
At the end of that time it was worth it.
Had you lived anywhere within fifty miles of Sun-
down Ranch you would have heard of it. It possessed
a quantity of jet-black hair, a pair of extremely frank,
deep-brown eyes and a laugh that rippled across the
prairie like the sound of a hidden brook. The name of
it was Rosita McMullen; and she was. the daughter of
old man McMullen of the Sundown Sheep Ranch.
There came riding on red roan steeds — or, to be more
explicit, on a paint and a flea-bitten sorrel — two wooers.
One was Madison Lane, and the other was the Frio Kid.
But at that time they did not call him the Frio Kid, for
he had not, earned the honours of special nomenclature.
His name was simply Johnny McRoy.
It must not be supposed that these two were the sum
of the agreeable Rosita's admirers. The bronchos of a
dozen others champed their bits at the long hitching
rack of the Sundown Ranch. Many were the sheeps'-
eyes that were cast in those savannas that did not belong
to the flocks of Dan McMullen. But of all the cavaliers,
Madison Lane and Johnny McRoy galloped far ahead,
wherefore they are to be chronicled.
Madison Lane, a young cattleman from the Nueces
country, won the race. He and Rosita were married one
Christmas day. Armed, hilarious, vociferous, mag-
nanimous, the cowmen and the sheepmen, laying aside
their hereditary hatred, joined forces to celebrate the
Sundown Ranch was sonorous with the cracking of
jokes and sixshooters, the shine of buckles and bright
eyes, the outspoken congratulations of the herders of kine.
But while the wedding feast was at its liveliest there
descended upon it Johnny McRoy, bitten by jealousy,
like one possessed.
"I'll give you a Christmas present," he yelled, shrilly,
at the door, with his .45 in his hand. Even then he had
some reputation as an offhand shot.
His first bullet cut a neat underbit in Madison Lane's
right ear. The barrel of his gun moved an inch. The
next shot would have been the bride's had not Carson, a
sheepman, possessed a mind with triggers somewhat well
oiled and in repair. The guns of the wedding party
had been hung, in their belts, upon nails in the wall when
they sat at table, as a concession to good taste. But
Carson, with great promptness, hurled his plate of roast
venison and frijoles at McRoy, spoiling his aim. The
second bullet, then, only shattered the white petals of a
Spanish dagger flower suspended two feet above Rosita's
A Chaparral Christmas Gift 225
The guests spurned their chairs and jumped for their
weapons. It was considered an improper act to shoot
the bride and groom at a wedding. In about six seconds
there were twenty or so bullets due to be whizzing in the
direction of Mr. McRoy.
"I'll shoot better next time," yelled Johnny; "and
there'll be a next time." He backed rapidly out the
Carson, the sheepman, spurred on to attempt further
exploits by the success of his plate-throwing, was first to
reach the door. McRoy's bullet from the darkness laid
The cattlemen then swept out upon him, calling for
vengeance, for, while the slaughter of a sheepman has
not always lacked condonement, it was a decided mis-
demeanour in this instance. Carson was innocent; he
was no accomplice at the matrimonial proceedings; nor
had any one heard him quote the line "Christmas comes
but once a year" to the guests.
But the sortie failed in its vengeance. McRoy was on
his horse and away, shouting back curses and threats as
he galloped into the concealing chaparral.
That night was the birthnight of the Frio Kid. He
became the "bad man"; of jthat portion of the State.
The rejection of his suit by Miss McMullen turned him
to a dangerous man. ^jVhen officers went after him for
the shooting of Carson, he killed two of them, and entered
upon the life of an outlaw. • He became a marvellous shot
with either hand. He would turn up in towns and
settlements, raise a quarrel at the slightest opportunity,
pick off his man and laugh at the officers of the law. He
was so cool, so deadly, so rapid, so inhumanly blood-
thirsty that none but faint attempts were ever made to
capture him. When he was at last shot and killed by a
little one-armed Mexican who was nearly dead himself
from fright, the Frio Kid had the deaths of eighteen men
on his head. About half of these were killed in fair duels
depending upon the quickness of the draw. The other
half were men whom he assassinated from absolute
wantonness and cruelty.
Many tales are told along the border of his impudent
courage and daring. .But he was not one of the breed of
desperadoes who have seasons of generosity and even of
softness. They say he never had mercy on the object
of his anger. Yet at this and every Christmastide it is
well to give each one credit, if it can be done, for what-
ever speck of good he may have possessed. If the Frio
Kid ever did a kindly act or felt a throb of generosity in his
heart it was once at such a time and season, and this is
the way it happened.
One who has been crossed in love should never breathe
the odour from the blossoms of the ratama tree. It stirs
the memory to a dangerous degree.
One December in the Frio country there was a ratama
tree in full bloom, for the winter had been as warm as
springtime. That way rode the Frio Kid and his satellite
and co-murderer, Mexican Frank. The kid reined in
A Chaparral Christmas Gift 227
his mustang, and sat in his saddle, thoughtful and grim,
with dangerously narrowing eyes. The rich, sweet scent
touched him somewhere beneath his ice and iron.
"I don't know what I've been thinking about, Mex,"
he remarked in his usual mild drawl, "to have forgot all
about a Christmas present I got to give. I'm going to
ride over to-morrow night and shoot Madison Lane in
his own house. He got my girl — Rosita would have
had me if he hadn't cut into the game. I wonder why I
happened to overlook it up to now ?"
"Ah, shucks, Kid," said Mexican, "don't talk foolish-
ness. You know you can't get within a mile of Mad
Lane's house to-morrow night. I see old man Allen
day before yesterday, and he says Mad is going to
have Christmas doings at his house. You remember
how you shot up the festivities when Mad was married,
and about the threats you made ? Don't you suppose
Mad Lane'll kind of keep his eye open for a certain
Mr. Kid ? You plumb make me tired, Kid, with such
"I'm going," repeated the Frio Kid, without heat,
"to go to Madison Lane's Christmas doings, and kill
him. I ought to have done it a long time ago. Why,
Mex, just two weeks ago I dreamed me and Rosita was
married instead of her and him; and we was living in a
house, and I could see her smiling at me, and — oh! h 1,
Mex, he got her; and I'll get him — yes, sir, on Christmas
Eve he got her, and then's when I'll get him."
"There's other ways of committing suicide," advised
Mexican. "Why don't you go and surrender to the
"I'll get him," said the Kid/
Christmas Eve fell as balmy as April. Perhaps there
was a hint of far-away frostiness in the air, but it tingled
like seltzer, perfumed faintly with late prairi§ blossoms
and the mesquite grass.
When night came the five or six rooms of the ranch-
house were brightly lit. In one room was a Christmas
tree, for the Lanes had a boy of three, and a dozen or
more guests were expected from the nearer ranches.
At nightfall Madison Lane called aside Jim Belcher
and three other cowboys employed on his ranch.
''Now, boys," said Lane, "keep your eyes open. Walk
around the house and watch the road well. All of you
know the 'Frio Kid,' as they call him now, and if you
see him, open fire on him without asking any questions.
I'm not afraid of his coming around, but Rosita is. She's
been afraid he'd come in on us every Christmas since we
The guests had arrived in buckboards and on
horseback, and were making themselves comfortable
The evening went along pleasantly. The guests
enjoyed and praised Rosita's excellent supper, and after-
ward the men scattered in groups about the rooms or
on the broad "gallery," smoking and chatting.
The Christmas tree, of course, delighted the youngsters,
and above all were they pleased when Santa Claus himself
A Chaparral Christmas Gift 289
in magnificent white beard and furs appeared and began
to distribute the toys.
"It's my papa," announced Billy Sampson, aged six.
"I've seen him wear 'em before."
Berkly, a sheepman, an old friend of Lane, stopped
Rosita as she was passing by him on the gallery, where
he was sitting smoking.
"Well, Mrs. Lane," said he, "I suppose by this Christ-
mas you've gotten over being afraid of that fellow McRoy,
haven't you ? Madison and I have talked about it, you
"Very nearly," said Rosita, smiling, "but I am still
nervous sometimes. I shall never forget that awful time
when he came so near to killing us."
"He's the most cold-hearted villain in the world," said
Berkly. "The citizens all along the border ought to
turn out and hunt him down like a wolf."
"He has committed awful crimes," said Rosita, "but
— I — don't — know. I think there is a spot of good
somewhere in everybody. He was not always bad —
that I know."
Rosita turned into the hallway between the rooms.
Santa Claus, in muffling whiskers and furs, was just
"I heard what you said through the window, Mrs.
Lane," he said. "I was just going down in my
pocket for a Christmas present for your husband. But
I've left one for you, instead. It's in the room to your
"Oh, thank you, kind Santa Claus," said Rosita,
Rosita went into the room, while Santa Claus stepped
into the cooler air of the yard.
She found no one in the room but Madison.
"Where is my present that Santa said he left for me
in here ?" she asked.
"Haven't seen anything in the way of a present/' said
her husband, laughing, "unless he could have meant me."
The next day Gabriel Radd, the foreman of the X O
Ranch, dropped into the post-office at Loma Alta.
"Well, the Frio Kid's* got his dose of lead at last," he
remarked to the postmaster.
"That so? How'd it happen?"
"One of old Sanchez's Mexican sheep herders did it!
— think of it! the Frio Kid killed by a sheep herder!
The Greaser saw him riding along past his camp about
twelve o'clock last night, and was so skeered that he up
with a Winchester and let him have it. Funniest part of
it was that the Kid was dressed all up with white Angora-
skin whiskers and a regular Santy Claus rig-out from head
to foot. Think of the Frio Kid playing Santy!"
A LITTLE LOCAL COLOUR
I MENTIONED to Rivington that I was in search of
characteristic New York scenes and incidents — some-
thing typical, I told him, without necessarily having to
spell the first syllable with an "i."
"Oh, for your writing business," said Rivington; "you
couldn't have applied to a better shop. What I don't
know about little old New York wouldn't make a sonnet
to a sunbonnet. I'll put you right in the middle of so
much local colour that you won't know whether you are
a magazine cover or in the erysipelas ward. When do
you want to begin ?"
Rivington is a young-man-about-town and a New
Yorker by birth, preference and incommutability.
I told him that I would be glad to accept his escort and
guardianship so that I might take notes of Manhattan's
errand, gloomy and peculiar idiosyncrasies, and that the
time of so doing would be at his own convenience.
"We'll begin this very evening," said Rivington, him-
self interested, like a good fellow. "Dine with me at
seven, and then I'll steer you up against metropolitan
phases so thick you'll have to have a kinetoscope to
So I dined with Rivington pleasantly at his club, in
Forty-eleventh street, and then we set forth in pursuit
of the elusive tincture of affairs.
As we came out of the club there stood two men on the
sidewalk near the steps in earnest conversation.
"And by what process of ratiocination ," said one of
them, "do you arrive at the conclusion that the division
of society into producing and non-possessing classes
predicates failure when compared with competitive
systems that are monopolizing in tendency and result
inimically to industrial evolution ?"
"Oh, come off your perch!" said the other man, who
wore glasses. "Your premises won't come out in the
wash. You wind-jammers who apply bandy-leggec
theories to concrete categorical syllogisms send logical
conclusions skallybootin' into the infinitesimal ragbag.
You can't pull my leg with an old sophism with whiskerr
on it. You quote Marx and Hyndman and Kautsky —
what are they ? — shines! Tolstoi ? — his garret is full of
rats. I put it to you over the home-plate that the idea
of a cooperative commonwealth and an abolishment of
competitive systems simply takes the rag off the bush and
gives me hyperesthesia of the roopteetoop! The skoo-
kum house for yours!"
I stopped a few yards away and took out my little
"Oh, come ahead," said Rivington, somewhat ner-
vously; "you don't want to listen to that."
"Why man," I whispered, "this is just what I do
A Little Local Colour 233
want to hear. These slang types are among your city's
most distinguishing features. Is this the Bowery variety ?
I really must hear more of it."
"If I follow you," said the man who had spoken first,
"you do not believe it possible to reorganize society on
the basis of common interest?" I
" Shinny on your own side!" said the man with glasses.
"You never heard any such music from my foghorn.
What I said was that I did not believe it practicable just
aow. The guys with wads are not in the frame of
mind to slack up on the mazuma, and the man with the
portable tin banqueting canister isn't exactly ready to
join the Bible class. You can bet your variegated socks
that the situation is all spifHicated up from the Battery to
breakfast! What the countrv needs is for some bully old
bloke like Cobden or some wise guy like old Ben Frank-
lin to sashay up to the front and biff the nigger's head
with the baseball. Do you catch my smoke? What?"
Rivington pulled me by the arm impatiently.
"Please come on," he said. "Let's go see something.
This isn't what you want."
"Indeed, it is," I said resisting. "This tough talk is
the very stuff that counts. There is a picturesqueness
about the speech of the lower order of people that is quite
unique. Did you say that this is the Bowery variety
"Oh, well," said Rivington, giving it up, "I'll tell you
straight. That's one of our college professors talking.
He ran down for a day or two at the club. It's a sort
of fad with him lately to use slang in his conversation.
He thinks it improves language. The man he is talking
to is one of New York's famous social economists. Now
will you come on ? You can't use that, you know."
"No," I agreed; "I can't use that. Would you call
that typical of N^w York ? "
"Of course not," said Rivington, with a sigh of relief.
"I'm glad you see the difference. But if you want to
hear the real old tough Bowery slang I'll take you down
where you'll get your fill of it."
"I would like it," I said; "that is, if it's the real thing.
I've often read it in books, but I never heard it. Do
you think it will be dangerous to go unprotected among
those characters ?"
"Oh, no," said Rivington; "not at this time of night.
To tell the truth, I haven't been along the Bowery in a
long time, but I know it as well as I do Broadway. We'll
look up some of the typical Bowery boys and get them to
talk. It'll be worth your while. They talk a peculiar
dialect that you won't hear anywhere else on earth."
Rivington and I went east in a Forty-second street car
and then south on the Third avenue line.
At Houston street we got off and walked.
"We are now on the famous Bowery," said Rivington;
"the Bowery celebrated in song and story."
We passed block after block of "gents'" furnishing
stores — the windows full of shirts with prices attached
and cuffs inside. In other windows were neckties and
no shirts. People walked up and down the sidewalks
A Little Local Colour 235
"In some ways," said I, "this reminds me of Koko-
mono, Ind., during the peach-crating season/ 9
Rivington was nettled.
"Step into one of these saloons or vaudeville shows,"
said he, "with a large roll of money, and see how quickly
the Bowery will sustain its reputation."
"You make impossible conditions," said I, coldly.
By and by Rivington stopped and said we were in the
heart of the Bowery. There was a policeman on the
corner whom Rivington knew.
"Hallo, Donahue!" said my guide. "How goes itf
My friend and I are down this way looking up a bit of
local colour. He's anxious to meet one of the Bowery
types. Can't you put us on to something genuine in that
line — something that's got the colour, you know?"
Policeman Donahue turned himself about ponder-
ously, his florid face full of good-nature. He pointed with
his club down the street.
"Sure!" he said huskily. "Here comes a lad now
that was born on the Bowery and knows every inch of
it. If he's ever been above Bleecker street he's kept it
A man about twenty-eight or twenty-nine, with a smooth
face, was sauntering toward us with his hands in his
coat pockets. Policeman Donahue stopped him with a
courteous wave of his club.
"Evening, Kerry," he said. "Here's a couple of gents,
friends of mine, that want to hear you spiel something
about the Bowery. Can you reel 'em off a few yards?"
"Certainly, Donahue," said the young man, pleas-
antly. "Good evening, gentlemen," he said to us,
with a pleasant smile. Donahue walked off on his beat.
"This is the goods," whispered Rivington, nudging
me with his elbow. " Look at his jaw ! "
"Say, cull," said Rivington, pushing back his hat,
"wot's doin'? Me and my friend's taking a look down
de old line — see ? De copper tipped us off dat you was
wise to de Bowery. Is dat right ?"
I could not help admiring Rivington's power of adapt-
ing himself to his surroundings.
"Donahue was right," said the young man, frankly;
"I was brought up on the Bowery. I have been news-
boy, teamster, pugilist, member of an organized band
of 'toughs,' bartender, and a 'sport' in various mean-
ings of the word. The experience certainly warrants the
supposition that I have at least a passing acquaintance
with a few phases of Bowery life. I will be pleased to
place whatever knowledge and experience I have at the
service of my friend Donahue's friends."
Rivington seemed ill at ease.
"I say," he said — somewhat entreatingly, "I thought —
you're not stringing us, are you ? It isn't just the kind
of talk we expected. You haven't even said 'Hully gee!'
once. Do you really belong on the Bowery ?"
"I am afraid," said the Bowery boy, smilingly, "that
at some time you have been enticed into one of the dives
of literature and had the counterfeit coin of the Bowery
passed upon you. The 'argot' to which you doubtless
A Little Local Colour 237
refer was the invention of certain of your literary * dis-
coverers' who invaded the unknown wilds below Third
avenue and put strange sounds into the mouths of the
inhabitants. Safe in their homes far to the north and
west, the credulous readers who were beguiled by this
new 'dialect' perused and believed. Like Marco Polo
and Mungo Park — pioneers indeed, but ambitious souls
who could not draw the line of demarcation between dis-
covery and invention — the literary bones of these
explorers are dotting the trackless wastes of the sub-
way. While it is true that after the publication of the
mythical language attributed to the dwellers along the
Bowery certain of its pat phrases and apt metaphors
were adopted and, to a limited extent, used in this locality,
it was because our people are prompt in assimilating
whatever is to their commercial advantage. To the
tourists who visited our newly discovered clime, and
who expected a realization of their literary guide books,
they supplied the demands of the market.
"But perhaps I am wandering from the question. In
what way can I assist you, gentlemen? I beg you will
believe that the hospitality of the street is extended to
all. There are, I regret to say, many catchpenny places
of entertainment, but I cannot conceive that they would
I felt Rivington lean somewhat heavily against me.
"Say!" he remarked, with uncertain utterance; "come
and have a drink with us."
Thank you, bat I never drink. I find that alcohol.
even in the smallest quantities, alters the perspective
And I must preserve my perspective, for I am studying
the Bowery. I have lived in it nearly thirty years, and
I am just beginning to understand its heartbeats. It is
like a great river fed by a hundred alien streams. Each
influx brings strange seeds on its flood, strange silt and
weeds, and now and then a flower of rare promise. To
construe this river requires a man who can build dykes
against the overflow, who is a naturalist, a geologist, a
humanitarian, a diver and a strong swimmer. I love
my Bowery. It was my cradle and is my inspiration.
I have published one book. The critics have been kind.
I put my heart in it. I am writing another, into which
I hope to put both heart and brain. Consider me your
guide, gentlemen. Is there anything I can take you to
see, any place to which I can conduct you ?"
I was afraid to look at Rivington except with one
"Thanks," said Rivington. "We were looking up
. . . that is . . . my friend . . . confound
it; it's against all precedent, you know . . . awfully
obliged . . . just the same."
"In case," said our friend, "you would like to meel
some of our Bowery young men I would be pleased to
have you visit the quarters of our East Side Kappa Delta
Phi Society, only two blocks east of here."
"Awfully sorry," said Rivington, "but my friend's got
me on the jump to-night. He's a terror when he's out
after local colour. Now, there's nothing I would like
A Little Local Colour 239
better than to drop in at the Kappa Delta Phi, but —
some other time ! "
We said our farewells and boarded a home-bound car.
We had a rabbit on upper Broadway, and then I parted
with Rivington on a street corner.
"Well, anyhow," said he, braced and recovered, "it
couldn't have happened anywhere but in little old New
Which to say the least, was typical of Rivington.
IF YOU should chance to visit the General Land Office,
step into the draughtsmen's room and ask to be shown
the map of Saiado County. A leisurely German — pos-
sibly old Kampfer himself — will bring it to you. It will
be four feet square, on heavy drawing-cloth. The lettering
and the figures will be beautifully clear and distinct.
The title will be in splendid, undecipherable German
text, ornamented with classic Teutonic designs — very
likely Ceres or Pomona leaning against the initial letters
with cornucopias venting grapes and wieners. You
must tell* him that this is not the map you wish to see;
that he will kindly bring you its official predecessor.
He will then say, "Ach, so!" and bring out a map
half the size of the first, dim, old, tattered, and
By looking carefully near its northwest corner you will
presently come upon the worn contours of Chiquito
River, and, maybe, if your eyes are good, discern the
silent witness to this story.
The Commissioner of the Land Office was of the old
style; his antique courtesy was too formal for his day.
Georgia's Ruling 241
He dressed in fine black, and there was a suggestion of
Roman drapery in his long coat-skirts. His collars were
"undetached" (blame haberdashery for the word); his
tie was a narrow, funereal strip, tied in the same knot as
were his shoe-strings. His gray hair was a trifle too long
behind, but he kept it smooth and orderly. His face was
clean-shaven, like the old statesmen's. Most people
thought it a stern face, but when its official expression was
off, a few had seen altogether a different countenance.
Especially tender and gentle it had appeared to those
who were about him during the last illness of his only
The Commissioner had been a widower for years, and
his life, outside his official duties, had been so devoted
to little Georgia that people spoke of it as a touching and
admirable thing. He was a reserved man, and dignified
almost to austerity, but the child had come below it all
and rested upon his very heart, so that she scarcely missed
the mother's love that had been taken away. There was
a wonderful companionship between them, for she had
many of his own ways, being thoughtful and serious
beyond her years.
One day, while she was lying with the fever burning
brightly in her cheeks, she said suddenly:
"Papa, I wish I could do something good for a whole
lot of children!"
"What would you like to do, dear?" asked the Com-
missioner. "Give them a party?"
"Oh, I don't mean those kind. I mean poor children
who haven't homes, and aren't loved and cared for as
I am. I tell you what, papa!"
"What, my own child?"
"E I shouldn't get well, I'll leave them you — not
give you but just lend you, for you must come to mamma
and me when you die too. If you can find time, wouldn't
you do something to help them, if I ask you, papa?"
"Hush, hush dear, dear child," said the Commissioner,
holding her hot little hand against his cheek; "you'll
get well real soon, and you and I will see what we can
do for them together."
But in whatsoever paths of benevolence, thus vaguely
premeditated, the Commissioner might tread, he was
not to have the company of his beloved. That night
the little frail body grew suddenly too tired to struggle
further, and Georgia's exit was made from the great stage
when she had scarcely begun to speak her little piece
before the footlights. But there must be a stage manager
who understands. She had given the cue to the one who
was to speak after her.
A week after she was laid away, the Commissioner
reappeared at the office, a little more courteous, a little
paler and sterner, with the black frock-coat hanging a
little more loosely from his tall figure.
His desk was piled with work that had accumulated
during the four heartbreaking weeks of his absence. His
chief clerk had done what he could, but there were ques-
tions of law, of fine judicial decisions to be made concern-
ing the issue of patents, the marketing and leasing of
Georgia's Ruling 243
scnool lands, the classification into grazing, agricultural,
watered, and timbered, of new tracts to be opened to
The Commissioner went to work silently and ob-
stinately, putting back his grief as far as possible, forcing
his mind to attack the complicated and important busi-
ness of his office. On the second day after his return he
called the porter, pointed to a leather-covered chair that
stood near his own, and ordered it removed to a lumber-
room at the top of the building. In that chair Georgia
would always sit when she came to the office for him of
As time passed, the Commissioner seemed to grow more
silent, solitary, and reserved. A new phase of mind
ileveloped in him. He could not endure the presence
of a child. Often when a clattering youngster belonging
to one of the clerks would come chattering into the big
business-room adjoining his little apartment, the Com-
missioner would steal softly and close the door. He
would always cross the street to avoid meeting the school-
children when they came dancing along in happy groups
upon the sidewalk, and his firm mouth would close into
a mere line.
It was nearly three months after the rains had washed
the last dead flower-petals from the mound above little
Georgia when the "land-shark" firm of Hamlin and
Avery filed papers upon what they considered the "fattest"
vacancy of the year.
It should not be supposed that all who were termed
"land-sharks" deserved the name. Many of them were
reputable men of good business character. Some of
them could walk into the most august councils of the
State and say: "Gentlemen, we would like to have this,
and that, and matters go thus." But, next to a three
years' drought and the boll-worm, the Actual Settler
hated the Land-shark. The land-shark haunted the
Land Office, where all the land records were kept,
and hunted "vacancies" — that is, tracts of unappro-
priated public domain, generally invisible upon the
official maps, but actually existing "upon the ground."
The law entitled any one possessing certain State scrip
to file by virtue of same upon any land not previously
legally appropriated. Most of the scrip was now in the
hands of the land-sharks. Thus, at the cost of a few
hundred dollars, they often secured lands worth as many
thousands. Naturally, the search for "vacancies" was
But often — very often — the land they thus secured,
though legally "unappropriated," would be occupied
by happy and contented settlers, who had laboured for
years to build up their homes, only to discover that their
titles were worthless, and to receive peremptory notice
to quit. Thus came about the bitter and not unjustifiable
hatred felt by the toiling settlers toward the shrewd and
seldom merciful speculators who so often turned them
forth destitute and homeless from their fruitless labours.
The history of the state teems with their antagonism.
Mr. Land-shark seldom showed his face on "locations"
Georgia's Ruling 245
from which he should have to eject the unfortunate victims
of a monstrously tangled land system, but let his emis-
saries do the work. There was lead in every cabin,
moulded into balls for him; many of his brothers had
enriched the grass with their blood. The fault of it all
lay far back.
When the state was young, she felt the need of attract-
ing newcomers, and of rewarding those pioneers already
within her borders.' Year after year she issued land scrip
— Headrights, Bounties, Veteran Donations, Confeder-
ates; and to railroads, irrigation companies, colonies,
and tillers of the soil galore. All required of the grantee
was that he or it should have the scrip properly surveyed
upon the public domain by the county or district surveyor,
and the land thus appropriated became the property of
him or it, or his or its heirs and assigns, forever.
In those days — and here is where the trouble began
— the state's domain was practically inexhaustible, and
Ihe old surveyors, with princely — yea, even Western
American — liberality, gave good measure and over-
flowing. Often the jovial man of metes and bounds
would dispense altogether with the tripod and chain.
Mounted on a pony that could cover something near a
"vara" at a step, with a pocket compass to direct his
course; he would trot out a survey by counting the beat
of his pony's hoofs, mark his corners, and write out his
field notes with the complacency produced by an act of
duty well performed. Sometimes — and who could
blame the surveyor? — when the pony was "feeling his
oats," he might step a little higher and farther, and in
that case the beneficiary of the scrip might get a thousand
or two more acres in his survey than the scrip called for.
But look at the boundless leagues the state had to spare !
However, no one ever had to complain of the pony under-
stepping. Nearly every old survey in the state con-
tained an excess of land.
In later years, when the state became more populous,
and land values increased, this careless work entailed
incalculable trouble, endless litigation, a period of riotous
land-grabbing, and no little bloodshed. The land-
sharks voraciously attacked these excesses in the old
surveys, and filed upon such portions with new scrip as
unappropriated public domain. Wherever the identi-
fications of the old tracts were vague, and the corners
were not to be clearly established, the Land Office would
recognize the newer locations as valid, and issue title to
the locators. Here was the greatest hardship to be found.
These old surveys, taken from the pick of the land, were
already nearly all occupied by unsuspecting and peaceful
settlers, and thus their titles were demolished, and the
choice was placed before them either to buy their land
over at a double price or to vacate it, with their families
and personal belongings, immediately. Land locators
sprang up by hundreds. The country was held up and
searched for "vacancies" at the point of a compass.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of splendid
acres were wrested from their innocent purchasers and
holders. There began a vast hegira of evicted settle is
Georgia's Ruling 247
in tattered wagons; going nowhere, cursing injustice,
stunned, purposeless, homeless, hopeless. Their children
began to look up to them for bread, and cry.
It was in consequence of these conditions that Hamil-
ton and Avery had filed upon a strip of land about a mile
wide and three miles long, comprising about two thou-
sand acres, it being the excess over complement of the
Elias Denny three-league survey on Chiquito River, in
one of the middle-western counties. This two-thousand-
acre body of land was asserted by them to be vacant land,
and improperly considered a part of the Denny survey.
They based this assertion and their claim upon the land
upon the demonstrated facts that the beginning corner
of the Denny survey was plainly identified; that its field
notes called to run west 5,760 varas, and then called for
Chiquito River; thence it ran south, with the meanders
— and so on — and that the Chiquito River was, on the
ground, fully a mile farther west from the point reached
by course and distance. To sum up: there were two
thousand acres of vacant land between the Denny survey
proper and Chiquito River.
One sweltering day in July the Commissioner called
for the papers in connection with this new location.
They were brought, and heaped, a foot deep, upon his desk
— field notes, statements, sketches, affidavits, connecting
lines — documents of every description that shrewdness
and money could call to the aid of Hamlin and Avery.
The firm was pressing the Commissioner to issue a
patent upon their location. They possessed inside info*
mation concerning a new railroad that would probak
pass somewhere near this land.
The General Land Office was very still while the Coe
missioner was delving into the heart of the mass oi ev-
dence. The pigeons could be heard on the roof of tit
old, castle-like building, cooing and fretting. The dert
were droning everywhere, scarcely pretending to ear.
their salaries. Each little sound echoed hollow and loo.
from the bare, stone-flagged floors, the plastered walls, aa:
the iron-joisted ceiling. The impalpable, perpetual lime-
stone dust that never settled, whitened a long streamer a
sunlight that pierced the tattered window-awning.
It seemed that Hamlin and Avery had builded weO
The Denny survey was carelessly made, even for a care-
less period. Its beginning corner was identical wit:
that of a well-defined old Spanish grant, but its otk
calls were sinfully vague. The field notes contained m
other object that survived — no tree, no natural objec
save Chiquito. River, and it was a mile wrong there.
According to precedent, the Office would be justified in
giving it its complement by course and distance, anc
considering the remainder vacant instead of a mere exce&
The Actual Settler was besieging the office with wik
protests in re. Having the nose of a pointer and the eye
of a hawk for the land-shark, «he had observed his myrmi-
dons running the lines upon his ground. Making inquiries,
he learned that the spoiler had attacked his home, and he
(eft the plough in the furrow and took his pen in hand
Georgia s Riding 249
One of the protests the Commissioner read twice. It
Was from: a woman, a widow, the granddaughter of Elias
Denny himself. She told how her grandfather had sold
most of the survey years before at a trivial price — land
that was now a principality in extent and value. Her
mother had also sold a part, and she herself had suc-
ceeded to this western portion, along Chiquito River.
Much of it she had been forced to part with in order to
live, and now she owned only about three hundred acres,
on which she had her home. Her letter wound up rather
"I've got eight children, the oldest fifteen years. I
work all day and half the night to till what little land I can
and keep us in clothes and bocks. I teach my children
too. My neighbours is all poor and has big families.
The drought kills the crops every two or three years and
then we has hard times to get enough to eat. There is
ten families on this land what the land-sharks is trying
to rob us of, and all of them got titles from me. I sold
to them cheap, and they aint paid out yet, but part of
them is, and if their land should be took from them I would
die. My grandfather was an honest man, and he "helped
to build up this state, and he taught his children to be
honest, and how could I make it up to them who bought
from me ? Mr. Commissioner, if you let them land-sharks
take the roof from over my children and the little from
them as they has to live on, whoever again calls this state
great or its government just will have a lie in their
The Commissioner laid this letter aside with a sigh.
Many, many such letters he had received. He 1iad never
been hurt by them, nor had he ever felt that they appealed
to him personally. He was but the state's servant, and
must follow its laws. And yet, somehow, this reflection
did not always eliminate a certain responsible feeling
that hung upon him. Of all the state's officers he was
supremest in his department, not even excepting the
Governor. Broad, general land laws he followed, it was
true, but he had a wide latitude in particular ramifica-
tions. Rather than law, what he followed was Rulings:
Office Rulings and precedents. In the complicated and
new questions that were being engendered by the state's
development the Commissioner's ruling was rarely
appealed from. Even the courts sustained it when its
equity was apparent.
The Commissioner stepped to the door and spoke to a
clerk in the other room — spoke as he always did, as if
he were addressing a prince of the blood:
"Mr. Weldon, will you be kind enough to ask Mr.
Ashe, the state school-land appraiser, to please come to
my office as soon as convenient ? "
Ashe came quickly from the big table where he was
arranging his reports.
"Mr. Ashe," said the Commissioner, "you worked
along the Chiquito River, in Salado County, during your
last trip, I believe. Do you remember anything of the
Elias Denny three-league survey?"
"Yes, sir, I do," the blu it, breezy surveyor answered.
Georgia's Ruling 251
"I crossed it on my way to Block H, on the north side of
it. The road runs with the Chiquito River, along the
valley. The Denny survey fronts three miles on the
"It is claimed," continued the Commissioner, "that
it fails to reach the river by as much as a mile."
The appraiser shrugged his shoulder. He was by birth
and instinct an Actual Settler, and the natural foe of the
"It has always been considered to extend to the river,"
he said, dryly.
"But that is not the point I desired to discuss," said the
Commissioner. "What kind of country is this valley
portion of (let us say, then) the Denny tract ?"
The spirit of the Actual Settler beamed in Ashe's face.
"Beautiful," he said, with enthusiasm. "Valley as
level as this floor, with just a little swell on, like the sea,
and rich as cream. Just enough brakes to shelter the
cattle in winter. Black loamy soil for six feet, and then
clay. Holds water. A dozen nice little houses on it,
with windmills and gardens. People pretty poor, I
guess — too far from market — but comfortable. Never
saw so many kids in my life."
"They raise flocks?" inquired the Commissioner.
"Ho, ho! I mean two-legged kids," laughed the
surveyor; "two-legged, and bare-legged, and tow-headed."
" Children! oh, children!" mused the Commissioner,
as though a new view had opened to him; "they raise
"It's a lonesome country, Commissioner," said the
surveyor. "Can you blame 'em?"
"I suppose," continued the Commissioner, slowly, as
one carefully pursues deductions from a new, stupendous
theory, "not all of them are tow-headed. It would not
be unreasonable, Mr. Ashe, I conjecture, to believe that
a portion of them have brown, or even black, hair."
Brown and black, sure," said Ashe; "also red."
No doubt," said the Commissioner. "Well, I thank
you for your courtesy in informing me, Mr. Ashe. I will
not detain you any longer from your duties."
Later, in the afternoon, came Hamlin and Avery, big,
handsome, genial, sauntering men, clothed in white duck
and low-cut shoes. They permeated the whole office
with an aura of debonair prosperity. They passed among
the clerks and left a wake of abbreviated given names and
fat brown cigars.
These were the aristocracy of the land-sharks, who
went in for big things. Full of serene confidence in them-
selves, there was no corporation, no syndicate, no rail-
road company or attorney general too big for them to
tackle. The peculiar smoke of their rare, fat brown cigars
was to be perceived in the sanctum of every department
of state, in every committee-room of the Legislature, in
every bank parlour and every private caucus-room in
the state Capital. Always pleasant, never in a hurry, in
seeming to possess unlimited leisure, people wondered
when they gave their attention to the many audacious
fcaterprises in which they were know to be engaged.
Georgia's Ruling 253
By and by the two dropped carelessly into the Com-
missioner's room and reclined lazily in the big, leather-
upholstered arm-chairs. They drawled a good-natured
complaint of the weather, and Hamlin told the Com-
missioner an excellent story he had amassed that morn-
ing from the Secretary of State.
But the Commissioner knew why they were there. He
had half promised to render a decision that day upon
The chief clerk now brought in a batch of duplicate
certificates for the Commissioner to sign. As he traced
his sprawling signature, "Hollis Summerfield, Comr.
Genl. Land Office," on each one, the chief clerk stood,
deftly removing them and applying the blotter,
"I notice," said the chief clerk, "you've been going
through that Salado County location. Kampfer is mak-
ing a new map of Salado, and I believe is platting in that
section of the county now."
"I will see it," said the Commissioner. A few moments
later he went to the draughtsmen's room.
As he entered he saw five or six of the draughtsmen
grouped about Kampfer's desk, gargling away at each
upon. At the Commissioner's approach they scattered
to their several places. Kampfer, a wizened little Ger-
man, with long, frizzled ringlets and a watery eye, began
to stammer forth some sort of an apology, the Commis-
sioner thought, for the congregation of his fellows about
254 * Whirligigs
"Never mind, ' said the Commissioner, "I wish to
see the map you are making"; and, passing around the
old German, seated himself upon the high draughtsman's
stool. Kampfer continued to break English in trying to
"Herr Gommissioner, I assure you blenty sat I haf
not it bremeditated — sat it wass — sat it itself make.
Look you ! from se field notes wass it blatted — blec.se
to observe se calls: South, 10 degrees west 1,050 varas;
south, 10 degrees east 300 varas; south, 100; south, 9
west, 200; south, 40 degrees west 400 — and so on.
Herr Gommissioner, nefer would I have "
The Commissioner raised one white hand, silently.
Kampfer dropped, his pipe and fled.
With a hand at each side of his face, and his elbows
resting upon the desk, the Commissioner sat staring at
the map which was spread and fastened there — staring
at the sweet and living profile of little Georgia drawn
thereupon — at her face, pensive, delicate, and infantile,
outlined in a perfect likeness.
When his mind at length came to inquire into the rea-
son of it, he saw that it must have been, as Kampfer had
said, unpremeditated. The old draughtsman had been
platting in the Elias Denny survey, and Georgia's likeness,
striking though it was, was formed by nothing more than
the meanders of Chiquito River. Indeed, Kampfer's
blotter, whereon his preliminary work was done, showed
the laborious tracings of the calls and the countless
pricks of the compasses. Then, over his faint pencilling
. Georgia's Ruling 255
Kampfer had drawn in India ink with a full, firm pen the
similitude of Chiquito River, and forth had blossomed
mysteriously the. dainty, pathetic profile of the child.
The Commissioner sat for half an hour with his face
in his hands, gazing downward, and none dared approach
him. Then he arose and walked out. In the business
office he paused long enough to ask that the Denny file
be brought to his desk.
He found Hamlin and Avery still reclining in their
chairs, apparently oblivious of business. They were
lazily discussing summer opera, it being their habit —
perhaps their pride also — to appear supernaturally
indifferent whenever they stood with large interests
imperilled. And they stood to win more on this stake
than most people knew. They possessed inside infor-
mation to the effect that a new railroad would, within a
year, split this very Chiquito River valley and send land
values ballooning all along its route. A dollar under
thirty thousand profit on this location, if it should hold
good, would be a loss to their expectations. So, while
they chatted lightly and waited for the Commissioner
to open the subject, there was a quick, sidelong sparkle
in their eyes, evipcing a desire to read their title clear
to those fair acres on the Chiquito.
A clerk brought in the file. The Commissioner seated
himself and wrote upoa it in red ink. Then he rose to
his feet and stood for a while looking straight out of the
window. The Land Office capped the summit of a bold
hill. The eyes of the Commissioner passed over the
roofs of many houses set in a packing of deep green, the
whole checkered by strips of blinding white streets. The
horizon, where his gaze was focussed, swelled to a fair
wooded eminence flecked with faint dots of shining white.
There was the cemetery, where lay many who were forgot-
ten, and a few who had not lived in vain. And one lay
there occupying very small space, whose childish heart
had been large enough to desire, while near its last beats,
good to others. The Commissioner's lips moved slightly
as he whispered to himself: "It was her last will and
testament, and I have neglected it so long!"
The big brown cigars of Hamlin and Avery were fireless,
but they still gripped them between their teeth and waited,
while they marvelled at the absent expression upon the
By and by he spoke suddenly and promptly.
"Gentlemen, I have just indorsed the Elias Denny
survey for patenting. This office will not regard your
location upon a part of it as legal." He paused a moment,
and then, extending his hand as those dear old-time ones
used to do in debate, he enunciated the spirit of that
Ruling that subsequently drove the land-sharks to the
wall, and placed the seal of peace and security over the
doors of ten thousand homes
"And, furthermore," he continued, with a clear, soft
light upon his face, "it may interest you to know that from
this time on this office will consider that when a survey
of land made by virtue of a certificate granted by this
state to the men who wrested it from the wilderness and
Georgia's Ruling 257
the savage — made in good faith, settled in good faith,
and left in good faith to their children or innocent pur-
chasers — when such a survey, although overrunning
its complement, shall call for any natural object visible
to the eye of man, to that object it shall hold, and be good
and valid. And the children of this state shall lie down to
sleep at night, and rumours of disturbers of title shall not
disquiet them. For," concluded the Commissioner;
"of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
In the silence that followed, a laugh floated up from
the patent-room below. The man who carried down the
Denny file was exhibiting it among the clerks.
"Look here/' he said, delightedly, "the old man has
forgotten his name. He's written 'Patent to original
grantee,' and signed it 'Georgia Summerfield, Comr.'"
The speech of the Commissioner rebounded lightly
from the impregnable Hamlin and Avery. They smiled,
rose gracefully, spoke of the baseball team, and argued
feelingly that quite a perceptible breeze had arisen from
the east. They lit fresh fat brown cigars, and drifted
courteously away. But later they made another tiger-
spring for their quarry in the courts. But the courts,
according to reports in the papers, "coolly roasted
them" (a remarkable performance, suggestive of
liquid-air didoes), and sustained the Commissioner's
And this Ruling itself grew to be a Precedent, and the
Actual Settler framed it, and taught his children to spell
from it, and there was sound sleep o' nights from the pines
to the sage-brush, and from the chaparral to the great
brown river of the north.
But I think, and I am sure the Commissioner never
thought otherwise, that whether Kampfer was a snuft
<>ld instrument of destiny, or whether the meanders of the
Chiquito accidentally platted themselves into that memo
table sweet profile or not, there was brought about "some-
thing good for a Whole lot of children," and the result
"•light to be called "Georgia's Ruling."
BLIND MAN'S HOLIDAY
ALAS for the man and for the artist with the shifting
point of perspective! Life shall be a confusion of ways
to the one; the landscape shall rise up and confound the
other. Take the case of Lorison. At one time he
appeared to himself to be the feeblest of fools; at another
he conceived that he followed ideals so fine that the world
was not yet ready to accept them. During one mood he
cursed his folly; possessed by the other, he bore himself
with a serene grandeur akin to greatness: in neither did
he attain the perspective.
Generations before, the name had been "Larsen."
His race had bequeathed him its fine-strung, melancholy
temperament, its saving balance of thrift and industry.
From his point of perspective he saw himself an outcast
from society, forever to be a shady skulker along the
ragged edge of respectability; a denizen des trots-quartz
de monde, that pathetic spheroid lying between the havt
and the demi, whose inhabitants envy each of their neigh-
bours, and are scorned by both. He was self -condemned
to this opinion, as he was setf-exHed, through it, to this
quaint Southern city a thousand miles from his former
home. Here he had dwelt for longer than a vear. know-
ing but few, keeping in a subjective world of shadows
which was invaded at times by the perplexing bulks of
jarring realities. Then he fell in love with a girl whom
he met in a cheap restaurant, and his story begins.
The Rue Chartres, in New Orleans, is a street of ghosts.
It lies in the quarter where the Frenchman, in his prime,
set up his translated pride and glory; where, also, the
arrogant don had swaggered, and dreamed of gold and
grants and ladies' gloves. Every flagstone has its grooves
worn by footsteps going royally to the wooing and the
fighting. Every house has a princely heartbreak; each
doorway its untold tale of gallant promise and slow decay.
By night the Rue Chartres is now but a murky fissure,
from which the groping wayfarer sees, flung against the
sky, the tangled filigree of Moorish iron balconies. The
old houses of monsieur stand yet, indomitable against the
century, but their essence is gone. The street is one of
ghosts to whosoever can see them.
A faint heartbeat of the street's ancient glory still sur-
vives in a corner occupied by the Cafe Carabine d'Or.
Once men gathered there to plot against kings, and to
warn presidents. They do so yet, but they are not the
same kind of men. A brass button will scatter these;
those would have set their faces against an army. Above
the door hangs the sign board, upon which has been
depicted a vast animal of unfamiliar species. In the act
of firing upon this monster is represented an unobtrusive
human levelling an obtrusive gun, once the colour of
bright gold. Now the legend above the picture is faded
Blind Man's Holiday 261
beyond conjecture; the gun's relation to the title is a
matter of faith; the menaced animal, wearied of the long
aim of the hunter, has resolved itself into a shapeless blot.
The place is known as "Antonio's," as the name, white
upon the red-lit transparency, and gilt upon the windows,
attests. There is a promise in "Antonio"; a justifiable
expectancy of savoury things in oil and pepper and wine,
and perhaps an angel's whisper of garlic. But the rest
of the name is "O'Riley." Antonio O'Riley!
The Carabine d'Or is an ignominious ghost of the Rue
Chartres. The cafe where Bienville and Conti dined,
where a prince has broken bread, is become a "family
Its customers are working men and women, almost to
a unit. Occasionally you will see chorus girls from the
cheaper theatres, and men who follow avocations sub-
ject to quick vicissitudes; but at Antonio's — name rich
in Bohemian promise, but tame in fulfillment — manners
debonair and gay are toned down to the "family" stand-
ard. Should you light a cigarette, mine host will touch
you on the "arrum" and remind you that the proprieties
are menaced. "Antonio" entices and beguiles from fiery
legend without, but "O'Riley" teaches decorum within
It was at this restaurant that Lorison first saw the girl
A flashy fellow with a predatory eye had followed her in,
and had advanced to take the other chair at the little table
where she stopped, but Lorison slipped into the seat before
him. Their acquaintance began, aud grew, and now for
two months they had sat at the same table each evening'
not meeting by appointment, but as if by a series of
fortuitous and happy accidents. After dining, they
would take a walk together in one of the little city parks,
or among the panoramic markets where exhibits a con-
tinuous vaudeville of sights and sounds. Always at eight
o'clock their steps led them to a certain street corner,
where she prettily but firmly bade him good night and
left him. "I do not live far from here," she frequently
said, "and you must let me go the rest of the way alone."
Ifyit now Lorison had discovered that he wanted to go
the rest of the way with her, or happiness would depart,
leaving him on a very lonely corner of life. And at the
same time that he made the discovery, the secret of his
banishment from the society of the good laid its finger
in his face and told him it must not be.
Man is too thoroughly an egoist not to be also an egotist;
if he love, the object shall know it. During a lifetime he
may conceal it through stress of expediency and honour,
but it shall bubble from his dying lips, though it disrupt
a neighbourhood. It is known, however, that most men
do not wait so long to disclose their passion. In the case
of Lorison, his particular ethics* positively forbade him
to declare his sentiments, but he must needs dally with
the subject, and woo by innuendo at least.
On this night, after the usual meal at the Carabine
d'Or, he strolled with his companion down the dim old
street toward the river.
The Rue Chartres perishes in the old Place d'Armes.
The ancient Cabildo, where Spanish justice fell like hail
Blind Man's Holiday 263
laces it, and the Cathedral, another provincial ghost,
overlooks it Its centre is a little, iron-railed park of
flowers and immaculate gravelled walks, where citizens
take the air of evenings. Pedestalled high above it, the
general sits Us cavorting steed, with his face turned
stonily down the river toward English Turn, whence
come no more Britons to bombard his cotton bales.
Often the two sat in this square, but to-night Lorison
guided her past the stone-stepped gate, and still riverward.
As they walked, he smiled ,to himself to think that all
he knew of her — except that he loved her — was her
name, Norah Greenway, and that she lived with her
brother. They had talked about everything except
themselves. Perhaps her reticence had been caused by his.
They came, at length, upon the levee, and sat upon a
great, prostrate beam. The air was pungent with the
dust of commerce. The great river slipped yellowly
past. Across it Algiers lay, a longitudinous black bulk
against a vibrant electric haze sprinkled with exact stars.
The girl was young and of the piquant order. A certain
bright melancholy pervaded her; she possessed an
untarnished, pale prettiness doomed to please. Her
voice, when she spoke, dwarfed her theme. It was the
voice capable of investing little subjects with a large
interest. She sat at ease, bestowing her skirts with the
little womanly touch, serene as if the begrimed pier were
a summer garden. Lorison poked the rotting boards
with his cane.
He began by telling her that he was in love with some
one to whom he durst not speak of it. "And why not?**
she asked, accepting swiftly his fatuous presentation of
a third person of straw. "My place in the world," he
answered, "is none to ask a woman to share. I am an
outcast from honest people; I am wrongly accused of
one crime, and am, I believe, guilty of another."
Thence he plunged into the story of his abdication from
society. The story, pruned of his moral philosophy,
deserves no more than the slightest touch. It is no new
tale, that of the gambler's declension. During one
night's sitting he lost, and then had imperilled a certain
amount of his employer's money, which, by accident, he
carried with him. He continued to lose, to the last wager,
and then began to gain, leaving the game winner to a
somewhat formidable sum. The same night his
employer's safe was robbed. A search was had; the
winnings of Lorison were found in his room, their total
forming an accusative nearness to the sum purloined.
He was taken, tried and, through incomplete evidence,
released, smutched with the sinister devoirs of a dis-
It is not in the unjust accusation," he said to the girl,
that my burden lies, but in the knowledge that from the
moment I staked the first dollar of the firm's money I
was a criminal — no matter whether I lost or won. You
see why it is impossible for me to speak of love to her."
"It is a sad thing," said Norah, after a little pause,
"to think what very good people there are in the world.'
"Good?" said Lorison.
Blind Man's Holiday 265
**I was thinking of this superior person whom you
say you love. She must be a very poor sort of creature/*
"I do not understand."
"Nearly/* she continued, "as poor a sort of creature
as yourself ."
"You do not understand," said Lorison, removing his
hat and sweeping back his fine, light hair. "Suppose
she loved me in return, and were willing to marry me.
Think, if you can, what would follow. Never a day
would pass but she would be reminded of her sacrifice.
I would read a condescension in her smile, a pity even in
her affection, that would madden me. No. The thing
would stand between us forever. Only equals should
mate. I could never ask her to come down upon my
An arc light faintly shone upon Lorison's face. An
illumination from within also pervaded it. The girl
saw the rapt, ascetic look; it was the face either of Sir
Galahad or Sir Fool.
"Quite starlike,*' she said, "is this unapproachable
angel. Really too high to be grasped."
"By me, yes."
She faced him suddenly. "My dear friend, would you
prefer your star fallen?'* Lorison made a wide gesture.
"You push me to the bald fact,'* he declared; "you
are not in sympathy with my argument. But I will
answer you so. If I could reach my particular star, to
drag it down, I would not do it; but if it were fallen, I
would pick it up, and thank Heaven for the privilege."
They were silent for some minutes. Norah shivered,
and thrust her hands deep into the pockets of her jacket.
Lorison uttered a remorseful exclamation.
"Fm not cold," she said. "I was just thinking. I
ought to tell you something. You have selected a strange
confidante. But you cannot expect a chance acquain-
ance, picked up in a doubtful restaurant, to be an angel."
"Norah!" cried Lorison.
'Let me go on. You have told me about yourself.
We have been such good friends. I must tell you now
what I never wanted you to know. I am — worse than
you are. I was on the stage ... I sang in the
chorus ... I was pretty bad, I guess ... I
stole diamonds from the prima donna . . . they
arrested me ... I gave most of them up, and they
let me go ... I drank wine every night . . , . a
great deal ... I was very wicked, but "
Lorison knelt quickly by her side and took her
".Dear Norah!" he said, exultantly. "It is you, it is
you I love! You never guessed it, did you? 'Tis you
I meant all the time. Now I can speak. Let me make
you forget the past. We have both suffered; let us shut
out the world, and live for each other. Norah, do you
hear me say I love you ?"
"In spite of "
"Rather say because of it. You have come out of
your past noble and good. Your heart is an angel's.
Give it to me."
Blind Man's Holiday 267
"A little while ago you feared the future too much to
"But for you; not for myself. Can you I6ve me?"
She cast herself, wildly sobbing, upon his breast.
"Better than life — than truth itself — than every-
"And my own past," said Lorison, with a note or
solicitude — "can you forgive and "
"I answered you that," she whispered, "when I told
you I loved you." She leaned away, and looked thought
fully at him. "If I had not told you about myself, woula
you have — would you "
"No," he interrupted; "I would never have let you
know I loved you. I would never have asked you this
— Norah, will you be my wife?"
She wept again.
"Oh, believe me; I am good now — I am no longer
wicked! I will be the best wife in the world.. Don't
think I am — bad any more. If you do I shall die, I
While he was consoling her, she brightened up, eager
and impetuous. "Will you marry me to-night?" she
said. " Will you prove it that way ? I have a reason for
wishing it to be to-night Will you?"
Of one of two things was this exceeding frankness the
outcome: either of importunate brazenness or of utter
ianocence. The lover's perspective contained only the
"The sooner," said Lorison, "the happier I shall be."
"What is there to do?" she asked. "What do you
have to get? Come! You should know."
Her energy stirred the dreamer to action.
"A city directory first," he cried, gayly, "to find where
the man lives who gives licenses to happiness. We will
go together and rout him out. Cabs, cars, policemen,
telephones and ministers shall aid us."
"Father Rogan shall marry us," said the girl, with
ardour. "I will take you to him."
An hour later the two stood at the open doorway of an
immense, gloomy brick building in a narrow and lonely
street. The license was tight in Norah's hand.
"Wait here a moment," she said, "till I find Father
She plunged into the black hallway, and the lover was
left standing, as it were, on one leg, outside. His impa-
tience was not greatly taxed. Gazing curiously into
what seemed the hallway to Erebus, he was presently
reassured by a stream of light that bisected the darkness,
far down the passage. Then he heard her call, and
fluttered lampward, like the moth. She beckoned him
through a doorway into the room whence emanated the
light. The room was bare of nearly everything except
books, which had subjugated all its space. Here and
there little spots of territory had been reconquered. An
elderly, bald man, with a superlatively calm, remote eye,
stood by a table with a book in his hand, his finger still
marking a page. His dress was sombre and appertained
Blind Man's Holiday 269
to a religious order. His eye denoted an acquaintance
with the perspective.
"Father Rogan," said Norah, "this is he."
"The two of ye," said Father Rogan, "want to get
They did not deny it. He married them. The cere-
mony was quickly done. One who could have witnessed
it, and felt its scope, might have trembled at the terrible
inadequacy of it to rise to the dignity of its endless chain
Afterward the priest spake briefly, as if by rote, of
certain other civil and legal addenda that either might or
Bhould, at a later time, cap the ceremony. Lorison
tendered a fee, which was declined, and before the door
closed after the departing couple Father Rogan's book
popped open again where his finger marked it.
In the dark hall Norah whirled and clung to her com<
"Will you never, never be sorry?"
At last she was reassured.
At the first light they reached upon the street, she asked
the time, just as she had each night. Lorison looked at
his watch. Half-past eight.
Lorison thought it was from habit that she guided their
steps toward the corner where they always parted. But,
arrived there, she hesitated, and then released his arm.
A drug store stood on the corner; its bright, soft light
shone upon them.
"Please leave me here as usual to-night," said Norab,
sweetly. "I must — I would rather you would. You
will not object? At six to-morrow evening I will meet
you at Antonio's. I »vant to sit with you there once more.
And then — I will go where you say." She gave him a
bewildering, bright smile, and walked swiftly away.
Surely it needed all the strength of her charm to carry
off this astounding behaviour. It was no discredit to
Lorison's strength of mind that his head began to whirl.
Pocketing his hands, he rambled vacuously over to the
druggist's windows, and began assiduously to spell over
the names of the patent medicines therein displayed.
As soon as he had recovered his wits, he proceeded
along the street in an aimless fashion. After drifting for
two or three squares, he flowed into a somewhat more
pretentious thoroughfare, a way much frequented by him
in his solitary ramblings. For here was a row of shops
devoted to traffic in goods of the widest range of choice —
handiworks of art, skill and fancy, products of nature
and labour from every zone.
Here, for a time, he loitered among the conspicuous
windows, where was set, emphasized by congested floods
of light, the cunningest spoil of the interiors. There
were few passers, and of this Lorison was glad. He was
not of the world. For. a long time he had touched his
fellow man only at the gear of a levelled cog-wheel — at
right angles, and upon a different axis. He ha<| dropped
into a distinctly new orbit. The stroke of ill fortune had
acted upon him, in effect, as a blow delivered upon the
apex of a certain ingenious toy, the musical top, which,
Blind Man's Holiday 271
when thus buffeted while spinning, gives forth, with
scarcely retarded motion, a complete change of key and
Strolling along the pacific avenue, he experienced a
singular, supernatural calm, accompanied by an unusual
activity of brain. Reflecting upon recent affairs, he
assured himself of his happiness in having won for a bride
the one he had so greatly desired, yet he wondered mildly
at his dearth of active emotion. Her strange behaviour
in abandoning him without valid excuse on his bridal eve
aroused in him only a vague and curious speculation.
Again, he found himself contemplating, with complaisant
serenity, the incidents of her somewhat lively career. His
perspective seejned to have been queerly shifted.
As he stood before a window near a corner, his ears
were assailed by a waxing clamour and commotions He
stood close to the window to allow passage to the cause
of the hubbub — a procession of human beings, which
rounded the corner and headed in his direction. He
perceived a salient hue of blue and a glitter of brass about
a central figure of dazzling white and silver, and a ragged
wake of black, bobbing figures.
Two ponderous policemen were conducting between
them a woman dressed as if for the stage, in a short, white,
satiny skirt reaching to the knees, pink stockings, and a
sort of sleeveless bodice bright with relucent, armour-like
scales. Upon her curly, light hair was perched, at a
rollicking angle, a shining tin helmet. The costume was
to be instantly recognized as one of those amazing con-
ceptions to which competition has harried the inventors
of the spectacular ballet. One of the officers bore a long
cloak upon his arm, which, doubtless, had been intended
to veil the candid attractions of their effulgent prisoner,
but, for some reason, it had not been called into use, to
the vociferous delight of the tail of the procession.
Compelled by a sudden and vigorous movement of the
woman, the parade halted before the window by which
Lorison stood. He saw that she was young, and, at the
first glance, was deceived by a sophistical prettiness of her
face, which waned before a more judicious scrutiny.
Her look was bold and reckless, and upon her countenance,
where yet the contours of youth survived, were the finger-
marks of old age's credentialed courier, Late Hours.
The young woman fixed her unshrinking gaze upon
Lorison, and called to him in the voice of the wronged
heroine in straits:
"Say! You look like a good fellow; come and put up
the bail, won't you? I've done nothing to get pinched
for. It's all a mistake. See how they're treating me!
You won't be sorry, if you'll help me out of this. Think
of your sister or your girl being dragged along the streets
this way! I say, come along now, like a good fellow."
It may be that Lorison, in spite of the unconvincing
bathos of this appeal, showed a sympathetic face, for one
of the officers left the woman's side, and went over to
"It's all right, sir," he said, in a husky, confidential
tone; "she's the right party. We took her after the first
Blind Man's Holiday 273
act at the Green Light Theatre, on a wire from the chief
of police of Chicago. It's only a square or two to the
station. Her rig's pretty bad, but she refused to change
clothes — or, rather," added the officer, with a smile,
"to put on some. I thought I'd explain matters to
you so you wouldn't think she was being imposed
"What is the charge?" asked Lorison.
"Grand larceny. Diamonds. Her husband is a
jeweller in Chicago. She cleaned his show case of the
sparklers, and skipped with a comic-opera troupe."
The policeman, perceiving that the interest of the entire
group of spectators was centred upon himself and Lorison
— their conference being regarded as a possible new com-
plication — was fain to prolong the situation — which
reflected his own importance — by a little afterpiece of
A gentleman like you, sir," he went on affably,
would never notice it, but it comes in my line to observe
what an immense amount of trouble is made by that com-
bination — I mean the stage, diamonds and light-headed
women who aren't satisfied with good homes. I tell
you, sir, a man these days and nights wants to know what
his women folks are up to."
The policeman smiled a good night, and returned to
the side of his charge, who had been intently watching
Lorison's face during the conversation, no doubt for
some indication of his intention to render succour. Now,
at the faPure of the sign, and at the movement made to
continue the ignominious progress, she abandoned hope,
and addressed him thus, pointedly:
"You damn chalk-faced quitter! You was thinkingl
of giving me a hand, but you let the cop talk you out of
it the first word. You're a dandy to tie to. Say, if toq|
ever get a girl, she'll have a picnic. Won't she work
you to the queen's taste! Oh, my!" She concluded
with a taunting, shrill laugh that rasped Lorison like a
saw. The policemen urged her forward; the delighted
train of gaping followers closed up the rear; and the
captive Amazon, accepting her fate, extended the scope
of her maledictions so that none in hearing might seem
to be slighted.
Then there came upon Lorison an overwhelming
revulsion of his perspective. It may be that he had
been ripe for it, that the abnormal condition of mind is
which he had for so long existed was already about to
revert to its balance; however, it is certain that the events
of the last few minutes had furnished the channel, if not
the impetus, for the change.
The initial determining influence had been so small
a thing as the fact and manner of his having been
approached by the officer. That agent had, by the styk
of his accost, restored the loiterer to his former place in
society. In an instant he had been transformed from
a somewhat rancid prowler along the fishy side streets of
gentility into an honest gentleman, with whom even so
lordly a guardian of the peace might agreeably exchange
Blind Man's Holiday 275
This, then, first broke the spell, and set thrilling in him
a resurrected longing for the fellowship of his kind, and
the rewards of the virtuous. To what end, he vehemently
asked himself, was this fanciful self -accusation, this
empty renunciation, this moral squeamishness through
which he had been led to abandon what was his heritage
in life, and not beyond his deserts ? Technically, he was
uncondemned; his sole guilty spot was in thought rather
than deed, and cognizance of it unshared by others. For
what good, moral or sentimental, did he slink, retreating
like the hedgehog from his own shadow, to and fro in this
musty Bohemia that lacked even the picturesque ?
But the thing that struck home and set him raging was
the part played by the Amazonian prisoner. To the
counterpart of that astounding belligerent — identical
at least, in the way of experience — to one, by her own
confession, thus far fallen, had he, not three hours since,
been united in marriage. How desirable and natural it
had seemed to him then, and how monstrous it seemed
now! How the words of diamond thief number two yet
burned in his ears: "If you ever get a girl, she'll have a
picnic." What did that mean but that women instinc-
tively knew him for one they could hoodwink ? Still again,
there reverberated the policeman's sapient contribution
to his agony: "A man these days and nights wants to
know what his women folks are up to." Oh, yes, he had
been a fool; he had looked al things from the wrong
But the wildest note in all the clamour was struck by
pain's forefinger, jealousy. Now, at least, he felt that
keenest sting — a mounting love unworthily bestowed.
Whatever she might be, he loved her; he bore in his own
breast his doom. A grating, comic flavour to his pre*
dicament struck him suddenly, and he laughed creakingly
as he swung down the echoing pavement. An impetuous
desire to act, to battle with his fate, seized him. He
stopped upon his heel, and smote his palms together
triumphantly. His wife was — where ? But there was
a tangible link; an outlet more or less navigable, through
which his derelict ship of matrimony might yet be safely
towed — the priest!
Like all imaginative men with pliable natures, Lorison
was, when thoroughly stirred, apt to become tempest-
uous. With a high and stubborn indignation upon him,
he retraced his steps to the intersecting street by which
he had come. Down this he hurried to the corner where
he had parted with — an astringent grimace tinctured the
thought — his wife. Thence still back he harked, follow-
ing through an unfamiliar district his stimulated recollec-
tions of the way they had come from that preposterous
wedding. Many times he went abroad, and nosed his
way back to the trail, furious.
At last, when he reached the dark, calamitous building
in which his madness had culminated, and found the
black hallway, he dashed down it, perceiving no light
or sound. But he raised his voice, hailing loudly; reckless
of everything but that he should find the old mischief-
maker with the eyes that looked too far away to see the
Blind Man's Holiday 277
disaster he had wrought. The door opened, and in the
stream of light Father Rogan stood, his book in hand,
with his finger marking the place.
"Ah!" cried Lorison. "You are the man I want. I
had a wife of you a few hours ago. I would not trouble
you, but I neglected to note how it was done. Will you
oblige me with the information whether the business is
" Come inside," said the priest; "there are other lodgers
in the house, who might prefer sleep to even a gratified
Lorison entered -the room and took the chair offered
him. The priest's eyes looked a courteous interrogation.
"I must apologize again," said the young man, "for so
soon intruding upon you with ray marital infelicities,
but, as my wife has neglected to furnish me with her
address, I am deprived of the legitimate recourse of a
"I am quite a plain man," said Father Rogan, pleas-
antly; "but I do not see how I am to ask you questions."
" Pardon my indirectness," said Lorison; "I will ask
one. In this room to-night you pronounced me to be a
husband. You afterward spoke of additional rites or
performances that either should or could be effected. I
paid little attention to your words then, but I am hungry
to hear them repeated now. As matters stand, am I
married past all help?"
"You are as legally and as firmly bound," said the
priest, "as though it had been done in a cathedral, in the
presence of thousands. The additional observances I
referred to are not necessary to the strictest legality of the
act, but were advised as a precaution for the future-
for convenience of proof in such contingencies as wills,
inheritances and the like."
Lorison laughed harshly.
"Many thanks," he said. "Then there is no mistake,
and I am the happy benedict. I suppose I should go
stand upon the bridal corner, and when my wife gets
through walking the streets she will look me up."
Father Rogan regarded him calmly.
"My son," he said, "when a man and woman come to
me to be married I always marry them. I do this for the
sake of other people whom they might go away and mam
if they did not marry each other. As you see, I do not
seek your confidence; but your case seems to me to be
one not altogether devoid of interest. Very few marriages
that have come to my notice have brought such well-
expressed regret within so short a time. I will hazard
one question: were you not under the impression
that you loved the lady you married, at the time you
"Loved her!" cried Lorison, wildly. "Never so weD
as now, though she told me she deceived and sinned and
stole. Never more than now, when, perhaps, she is
laughing at the fool she cajoled and left, with scarcely a
word, to return to God only knows what particular line
of her former folly."
Father Rogan answered nothing. During the silence
Blind Man 9 s Holiday 279
hat succeeded, he sat with a quiet expectation beaming
a his full, lambent eye.
" If you would listen " began Lorison. The priest
Leld up his hand.
4 *As I hoped,*' he said. "I thought you would trust
ne. Wait but a moment." He brought a long clay
>ipe, filled and lighted it.
"Now, my son," he said.
Lorison poured a twelvemonth's accumulated con-
science into Father Rogan's ear. He told all; not sparing
himself or omitting the facts of his past, the events of the
night, or his disturbing conjectures and fears.
"The main point," said the priest, when he had con-
cluded, "seems to me to be this — are you reasonably
sure that you love this woman whom you have married ?"
"Why," exclaimed Lorison, rising impulsively to his
feet — "why should I deny it? But look at me — am I
fish, flesh or fowl? That is the main point to me, I
"I understand you," said the priest, also rising, and
laying down his pipe. "The situation is one that has
taxed the endurance of much older men than you — in
fact, especially much older men than you. I will try to
relieve you from it, and this night. You shall see for
yourself into exactly what predicament you have fallen,
and how you shall, possibly, be extricated. There is no
evidence so credible as that of the eyesight."
Father Rogan moved about the room, and donned a
soft black hat. Buttoning his coat to his throat, he
laid his hand on the doorknob. "Let us walk,'
The two went out upon the street. The priest turned
his face down it, and Lorison walked with him through i
squalid district, where the houses loomed, awry and
desolate-looking, high above them. . Presently they turned
into a less dismal side street, where the houses were smaller,
and, though hinting of the most meagre comfort, lacked
the concentrated wretchedness of the more populous
At a segregated, two-story house Father Rogan halted,
and mounted the steps with the confidence of a familial
visitor. He ushered Lorison into a narrow hallway
faintly lighted by a cob webbed hanging lamp. Almost
immediately a door to the right opened and a dingy Irish-
woman protruded her head.
"Good evening to ye, Mistress Geehan/' said the
priest, unconsciously, it seemed, falling into a delicately
flavoured brogue. "And is it yourself can tell me if
Norah has gone out again, the night, maybe?"
"Oh, it's yer blissid riverence! Sure and I can tell
ye the same. The purty darlin' wint out, as usual, but a
bit later. And she says: 'Mother Geehan,' says she, 'it's
me last noight out, praise the saints, this noight is! ' And.
oh, yer riverence, the swate, beautiful drame of a dress she
had this toime! White satin and silk and ribbons, and
lace about the neck and arrums — 'twas a sin, yer
riverence, the gold was spint upon it."
The priest heard Lorison catch his breath painfully
Blind Man's Holiday 281
and a faint smile flickered across his own clean-cut
"Well, then, Mistress Geehan," said he, 'Til just
step upstairs and see the bit boy for a minute, and I'll
take this gentleman up with me."
"He's awake, thin," said the woman. "I've just
come down from sitting wid him the last hour, tilling him
fine shtories of ould County Tyrone. Tis a greedy gos-
soon, it is, yer riverence, for me shtories."
"Small the doubt," said Father Rogan. "There's no
rocking would put him to slape the quicker, I'm thinking."
Amid the woman's shrill protest against the retort, the
two men ascended the steep stairway. The priest pushed
open the door of a room near its top.
"Is that you already, sister?" drawled a sweet, childish
voice from the darkness.
"It's only ould Father Denny come to see ye, darlin';
and a foine gintleman I've brought to make ye a gr-r-and
call. And ye resaves us fast aslape in bed! Shame on
"Oh, Father Denny, is that you? I'm glad. And
will you light the lamp, please ? It's on the table by the
door. And quit talking like Mother Geehan, Father
The priest lit the lamp, and Lorison saw a tiny, towsled-
haired boy, with a thin, delicate face, sitting up in a small
bed in a corner. Quickly, also, his rapid glance con-
sidered the room and its contents. It was furnished with
more than comfort, and its adornments plainly indicated
a woman's discerning taste. An open door beyon;
revealed the blackness of an adjoining room's interior.
The boy clutched both of Father Rogan's hands. *Ta
so glad you came," he said; "but why did you come b
the night? Did sister send you?"
"Off wid ye! Am I to be sint about, at me age, a
was Terence McShane, of Ballymahone ? I come on ct
Lorison had also advanced to the boy's bedside. B
was fond of children; and the wee fellow, laying himsei
down to sleep alone in that dark room, stirred his heart
"Aren't you afraid, little man?" he asked, stoopin;
down beside him.
"Sometimes," answered the boy, with a shy smik
•'when the rats make too much noise. But nearly ever
night, when sister goes out, Mother Geehan stays a whik
with me, and tells me funny stories. I'm not ofter
"This brave little gentleman," said Father Rogan, "i>
a scholar of mine. Every day from half -past six to half-
past eight — when sister comes for him — he stops i
my study, and we find out what's in the inside of boob
He knows multiplication, division and fractions; and
he's throubling me to begin wid the chronicles of Ciarao
of Clonmacnoise, Corurac McCullenan and Cuan O'Loc-
hain, the gr-r-reat Irish histhorians." The boy was
evidently accustomed to the priest's Celtic pleasantries.
A little, appreciative grin was all the attention the ina*
uation of pedantry received.
Blind Man's Holiday 283
Xiorison, to have saved his life, could not have put to
child one of those vital questions that were wildlj
mating about, unanswered, in his owni>rain. The little
^Xlow was very like Norah; he had the same shining
ir and candid eyes.
"Oh, Father Denny/' cried the boy, suddenly, "I
rgot to tell you! Sister is not going away at night any
cxore! She told me so when she kissed me good night as
ilne was leaving. And she said she was so happy, and
laea she cried. Wasn't that queer? But I'm glad;
"Yes, lad. And now, ye omadhaun, go to sleep, and
***y good night; we must be going."
" N Which shall I do first, Father Denny?"
"Faith, he's caught me again! Wait till I get the
sassenach into the annals of Tageruach, the hagiographer;
I'll give him enough of the Irish idiom to make him more
The light was out, and the small, brave voice bidding
them good night from the dark room. They groped
downstairs, and tore away from the garrulity of Mother
Again the priest steered them through the dim ways,
but this time in another direction. His conductor was
serenely silent, and Lorison followed his example to the
extent of seldom speaking. Serene he could not be. His
heart beat suffocatingly in his breast. The following of
this blind, menacing trail was pregnant with he knew not
what humiliating revelation to be delivered at its end-
They came into a more pretentious street, where trade,
it could be surmised, flourished by day. And again the
priest paused; this time before a lofty building, whose
great doors and windows in the lowest floor were carefuDj
shuttered and barred. Its higher apertures were dark,
save in the third story, the windows of which were bril-
liantly lighted. Lorison's ear caught a distant, regular,
pleasing thrumming, as of music above. They stood at
an angle of the building. Up, along the side nearest them,
mounted an iron stairway. At its top was an upright
illuminated parallelogram. Father Rogan had stopped
and stood, musing.
I will say this much," he remarked, thoughtfully:
I believe you to be a better man than you think yourself
to be, and a better man than I thought some hours ago.
But do not take this," he added, with a smile, "as much
praise. I promised you a possible deliverance from an
unhappy perplexity. I will have to modify that promise.
I can only remove the mystery that enhanced that per-
plexity. Your deliverance depends upon yourself
He led his companion up the stairway. Halfway up,
Lorison caught him by the sleeve. "Remember," he
gasped, "I love that woman."
"You desired to know."
The priest reached the landing at the top of the stairway.
Lorison, behind him, saw that the illuminated space was
the plass upper half of a door opening into the lighted
Blind Man's Holiday 28*
room. The rhythmic music increased as they neared
it; the stairs shook with the mellow vibrations.
Lorison stopped breathing when he set foot upon the
Vighest step, for the priest stood aside, and motioned him
to look through the glass of the door.
His eye, accustomed to the darkness, met first a blind-
ing glare, and then he made out the faces and forms of
many people, amid an extravagant display of splendid
robings — billowy laces, brilliant-hued finery, ribbons,
silks and misty drapery. And then he caught the mean-
ing of that jarring hum, and he saw the tired, pale, happy
face of his wife, bending, as were a score of others, over
her sewing machine — toiling, toiling. Here was the
folly she pursued, and the end of his quest.
But not his deliverance, though even then remorse
struck him* His shamed soul fluttered once more before
it retired to make room for the other and better one.
For, to temper his thrill of joy, the shine of the satin and
the glimmer of ornaments, recalled the disturbing figure
of the bespangled Amazon, and the base duplicate his-
tories lit by the glare of footlights and stolen diamonds. It
is past the wisdom of him who only sets the scenes, either
to praise or blame the man. But this time his love over-
came hi? scruples. Hfe took a quick step, and reached
out his hand for the doorknob. Father Rogan was
ruicker tc arrest it and draw him back.
"You use my trust in you queerly," said the priest
sternly. ** What are you about to do?"
"I am going to my wife." .°»id Lorison. "Let me pass."
"Listen," said the priest, holding him firmly by the
arm. "I am about to put you in possession of a piece of
knowledge of which, thus far, you have scarcely proved
deserving. I do not think you ever will; but I will not
dwell upon that. You see in that room the woman you
married, working for a frugal living for herself, and a
generous comfort for an idolized brother. This building
belongs to the chief costumer of the city. For months the
advance orders for the coming Mardi Gras festivals have
kept the work going day and night. J myself secured
employment here for Norah. She toils here each night
from nine o'clock until daylight, and, besides, carries
home with her some of the finer costumes, requiring more
delicate needlework, and works there part of the day.
Somehow, you two have remained strangely ignorant of
each other's lives. Are you convinced now that your
wite is not walking the streets ?"
"Let me go to her," cried Lorison, again struggling,
"and beg her forgiveness!"
"Sir," said the priest, "do you owe me nothing? Be
quiet. It seems so often that Heaven lets fall its choicest
gifts into hands that must be taught to hold them. Listen
again. You forgot that repentant sin must not comprom-
ise, but look up, for redemption, to the purest and best.
You went to her with the fine-spun sophistry that peace
could be found in a mutual guilt; and she, fearful of losing
what her heart so craved, thought it worth the price to
buy it with a desperate, pure, beautiful lie. I have known
her since the day she was born; she is as innocent and
Blind Man's Holiday 287
unsullied in life and deed as a holy saint. In that lowly
street where she dwells she first saw the light, and she
has lived there ever since, spending her days in generous
self-sacrifice for others. Och, ye spalpeen!" continued
Father Rogan, raising his finger in kindly anger at Lorison.
"What for, I wonder, could she be afther making a £ool
of hersilf, and shamin' her swate soul with lies, for the
like of you!"
"Sir," said Lorison, trembling, "say what you please
of me. Doubt it as you must, I will yet prove my gratitude
to you, and my devotion to her. But let me speak to her
once now, let me kneel for just one moment at her feet,
Tut, tut!" said the priest. "How many acts of a
love drama do you think an old bookworm like me capable
of witnessing ? Besides, what kind of figures do we cut,
spying upon the mysteries of midnight millinery! Go
to meet your wife to-morrow, as she ordered you, and obey
her thereafter, and maybe some time I shall get forgive-
ness for the part I have played in this night/s work. Off
wid yez down the shtairs, now! 'Tis late and an ould
man like me should be takin' his rest."
MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES
AUNT ELLEN," said Octavia, cheerfully, as she threw
her black kid gloves carefully at the dignified Persian cat
on the window-seat, "I'm a pauper."
"You are so extreme in your statements, Octavia,
dear," said Aunt Ellen, mildly, looking up from her paper.
" If you find yourself temporarily in need of some small
change for bonbons, you will find my purse in the drawer
of the writing desk."
Octavia Beaupree removed her hat and seated herself
on a footstool near her aunt's chair, clasping her hands
about her knees. Her slim and flexible figure, clad in a
modish mourning costume, accommodated itself easily
and gracefully to the trying position. Her bright and
youthful face, with its pair of sparkling, life-enamoured
eyes, tried to compose itself to the seriousness that the
occasion seemed to demand.
" You good auntie, it isn't a case of bonbons; it is abject,
staring, unpicturesque poverty, with ready-made clothes,
gasolined gloves, and probably one o'clock dinners all
waiting with the traditional wolf at the door. I've just
come from my lawyer, auntie, and, * Please, ma'am, I
ain't got nothink 't all. Flowers, lady? Buttonhole.
Madame Bd-Peep, of the Ranches 289
gentleman? Pencils, sir, three for five, to help a poor
widow ? ' Do I do it nicely, auntie, or, as a bread-winner
accomplishment, were my lessons in elocution entirely
wasted ? "
"Do be serious, my dear," said Aunt Ellen, letting hei
paper fall to the floor, " long enough to tell mo what you
mean. Colonel Beaupree's estate "
"Colonel Beaupree's estate," interrupted Octavia,
emphasizing her words with appropriate dramatic ges-
tures, "is of Spanish castellar architecture. Colonel
Beaupree's resources are — wind. Colonel Beaupree's
stocks are — water. Colonel Beaupree's income is —
all in. The statement lacks the legal technicalities to
which I have been listening for an hour, but that is what
it means when translated."
"Octavia!" Aunt Ellen was now visibly possessed by
consternation. " I can hardly believe it. And it was the
impression that he was worth a million. And the De
Peysters themselves introduced him!"
Octavia rippled out a laugh, and then became properly
" De mortuis nil, auntie — not even the rest of it. The
dear old colonel — what a gold brick he was, after all!
I paid for my bargain fairly — I'm all here, am I not ?
— items: eyes, fingers, toes, youth, old family, unques-
tionable position in society as called for in the contract
— no wild-cat stock here." Octavia picked up the
morning paper from the floor. "But I'm not going to
* squeal ' — isn't that what they call it when you rail a*
fortune because you've lost the game?" She turned
the pages of the paper calmly. "' Stock market* — no
use for that. * Society's doings ' — that's done. Here is
my page — the wish column. A Van Dresser could not
be said to 'want' for anything, of course. 'Chamber-
maids, cooks, canvassers, stenographers "
"Dear," said Aunt Ellen, with a little tremor in her
voice, "please do not talk in that way. Even if your
affairs are in so unfortunate a condition, there is my three
Octavia sprang up lithely, and deposited a smart kiss
on the delicate cheek of the prim little elderly maid.
"Blessed auntie, your three thousand is just sufficient
to insure your Hyson to be free from willow leaves and
keep the Persian in .sterilized cream. I know I'd be
welcome, but I prefer to strike bottom like Beelzebub
rather than hang around like the Peri listening to the
music from the side entrance. I'm going to earn my own
living. There's nothing else to do. I'm a — Oh, oh, oh!
— I had forgotten. There's one thing saved from the
wreck. It's a corral — no, a ranch in — let me see —
Texas: an asset, dear old Mr. Bannister called it. How
pleased he was to show me something he could describe
as unencumbered! I've a description of it among those
stupid papers he made me bring away with me from his
office. I'll try to find it."
Octavia found her shopping-bag, and drew from it a
long envelope filled with typewritten documents.
"A ranch in Texas," sighed \unt Ellen. "It soundf
Madame Bo-Peep 9 of the Ranches 291
to me more like a liability than an asset. Those are the
places where the centipedes are found, and cowboys,
"'The Rancho de las Sombras,'" read Octavia from
a sheet of violently purple typewriting, " ' is situated one
hundred and ten miles southeast of San Antonio, and
thirty-eight miles from its nearest railroad station, Nopal,
on the I. and G. N. Ranch, consists of 7,680 acres of well-
watered land, with title conferred by State patents, and
twenty-two sections, or 14,080 acres, partly under yearly
running lease and partly bought under State's twenty-
year-purchase act. Eight thousand graded merino sheep,
with the necessary equipment of horses, vehicles and
general ranch paraphernalia. Ranch-house built of
brick, with six rooms comfortably furnished according to
the requirements of the climate. All within a strong
barbed-wire fence. *
"'The present ranch manager seems to be competent
and reliable, and is rapidly placing upon a paying basis
a business that, in other hands, had been allowed to suffer
from neglect and miscouluct.
"'This property was seoired by Colonel Beaupree in a
deal with a Western irrigation syndicate, and the title
to it seems to be perfect. With careful management and
the natural increase of land values, it ought to be made
the foundation for a comfortable fortune for its owner.'"
When Octavia ceased reading, Aunt Ellen uttered
something as near a sniff as her breeding permitted.
The prospectus," she said, with uncompromising
metropolitan suspicion, "doesn't mention the centipedes,
or the Indians. And you never did like mutton, Octavia.
I don't see what advantage you can derive from this —
But Octavia was in a trance. Her eyes were steadily
regarding something quite beyond their focus. Her lips
were parted, and her face was lighted, by the kindling
furor of the explorer, the ardent, stirring disquiet of the
adventurer. Suddenly she clasped her hands together
"The problem solves itself, auntie," she cried. "I'm
going to that ranch. I'm going to live on it. I'm
going to learn to like mutton, and even concede the good
qualities of centipedes — at a respectful distance. It's
just what I need. It's a new life that comes when my old
one is just ending. It's a release, auntie; it isn't a narrow-
ing. Think of the gallops over those leagues of prairies,
with the wind tugging at the roots of your hair, the com-
ing close to the earth and learning over again the stories
of the growing grass and the. little wild flowers without
names ! Glorious is what it will be. Shall I be a
shepherdess with a Watteau hat, and a crook to keep the
bad wolves from the lambs, or a typical Western ranch
girl, with short hair, like the pictures of her in the Sunday
papers ? I think the latter. And they'll have my picture,
too, with the wild-cats I've slain, single-handed, hanging
from my saddle horn. ' From the Four Hundred to the
Flocks' is the way they'll headline it, and they'll print
photographs of the old Van Dresser mansion and the
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 298
church where I was married. They won't have my
picture, but they'll get an artist to draw it. I'll be wild
and woolly, and I'll grow my own wool."
"Octavia!" Aunt Ellen condensed into the one word
all the protests she was unable to utter.
"Don't say a word, auntie. I'm going. I'll see the
sky at night fit down on the world like a big butter-dish
cover, and I'll make friends again with the stars that I
haven't had a chat with since I was a wee child. I wish
to go. I'm tired of all this. I'm glad I haven't any '
money. I could bless Colonel Beaupree for that ranch,
and forgive him for all his bubbles. What if the life will
be rough and lonely! I — I deserve it. I shut my heart
to everything except that miserable ambition. I — oh.
I wish to go away, and forget — forget!"
Octavia swerved suddenly to her knees, laid her flushed
face in her aunt's lap, and shook with turbulent sobs.
Aunt Ellen bent over her, and smoothed the coppery-
"I didn't know," she said, gently; "I didn't know —
that. Who was it, dear ? "
When Mrs. Octavia Beaupree, n£e Van Dresser,
stepped from the train at Nopal, her manner lost, for the
moment, some of that easy certitude which had always
marked her movements. The town was of recent estab-
lishment, and seemed to have been hastily constructed of
undressed lumber and flapping canvas. The element
that had congregated about the station, though not
offensively demonstrative, was clearly composed of dtin
accustomed to and prepared for rude alarms.
Octavia stood on the platform, against the telegna
office, and attempted to choose by intuition from tk
swaggering, straggling string of loungers, the manap
of the Rancho de las Sombras, who had been instructs
by Mr. Bannister to meet her there. That tall, seriot-
looking, elderly man in the blue flannel shirt and wi*
tie she thought must be he. But, no; he passed b*
removing his gaze from the lady as hers rested on Jul
according to the Southern custom. The manager, sfe
thought, with some impatience at being kept waitar
should have no difficulty in selecting her. Young worn
wearing the most recent thing in ash-coloured traveffiar
suits were not so plentiful in Nopal!
Thus keeping a speculative watch on all persons ■
possible managerial aspect, Octavia, with a catchk
breath and a start of surprise, suddenly became aware cf
Teddy Westlake hurrying along the platform in Ik
direction of the train — of Teddy Westlake or his sun-
browned ghost in cheviot, boots and leather-girdled bl
— Theodore Westlake, Jr., amateur polo (almost
champion, all-round butterfly and cumberer of the soft
but a broader, surer, more emphasized and determined
Teddy than the one she had known a year ago when Its!
she saw him.
He perceived Octavia at almost the same time, deflects
his course, and steered for her in his old, straightforward
way. Something like awe came upon her as the stranp
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 895
3 of his metamorphosis was brought into closer range;
rich, red-brown of his complexion brought out so
dly his straw-coloured mustache and steel-gray eyes.
seemed more grown-up, and, somehow, farther away.
;, when he spoke, the old, boyish Teddy came back
In. They had been friends from childhood.
Why, 'Tave!" he exclaimed, unable to reduce
perplexity to coherence. " How — what — when —
ere ? "
£ Train," said Octavia; "necessity; ten minutes ago;
ne. Your complexion's gone, Teddy. Now, how — ~
at — when — where ? "
' I'm working down here," said Teddy. He cast side
,nces about the station as one does who tries to combine
liteness with duty.
'You didn't notice on the train," he asked, "an old
ly with gray curls and a poodle, who occupied two
its with her bundles and quarrelled with the conductor,
"I think not," answered Octavia, reflecting. "And
u haven't, by any chance, noticed a big, gray-mustached
am in a blue shirt and six-shooters, with little flakes of
erino wool sticking in his hair, have you ? "
" Lots of 'em," said Teddy, with symptoms of mental
lirium under the strain. " Do you happen to know any
ch individual ? "
"No; the description is imaginary. Is your interest
the old lady whom you describe a personal one ? "
"Never saw her in my life. She's painted entirely
from fancy. She owns the little piece of property what
earn my bread and butter — the Rancho de las So
I drove up to meet her according to arrangement
Octavia leaned against the wall of the telegraph
Was this possible? And didn't he know?
" Are you the manager of that ranch ? " she asb
I am," said Teddy, with pride.
I am Mrs. Beaupree," said Octavia faintly; "butr
hair never would curl, and I was polite to the conductor
For a moment that strange, grown-up look came bad
and removed Teddy miles away from her.
I hope you'll excuse me," he said, rather awkwardh
You see, I've been down here in the chaparral a yes:
I hadn't heard. Give me your checks, please, audi",
have your traps loaded into the wagon. Jos£ will foflot
with them. We travel ahead in the buckboard."
Seated by Teddy in a feather-weight buckboard, behici
a pair of wild, cream-coloured Spanish ponies, Octarj
abandoned all thought for the exhilaration of the preset
They swept out of the little town and down the level ro»:
toward the south. Soon the road dwindled and &
appeared, and they struck across a world carpeted fte
an endless reach of curly mesquite grass. The wheel*
made no sound. The tireless ponies bounded ahead*'
an unbroken gallop. The temperate wind, made fragrtf
by thousands of acres of blue and yellow wild flowers,
roared glori "i«lv in their ears. The motion was seri
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 297
cstatic, with a thrilling sense of perpetuity in its effect.
>ctavia sat silent, possessed by a feeling of elemental,
ensual bliss. Teddy seemed to be wrestling with some
" I'm going to call you madama," he announced as the
esult of his labours. "That Is what the Mexicans will
:all you — they're nearly all Mexicans on the ranch,
rou know. That seems to me about the proper thing."
Very well, Mr. Westlake," said Octavia, primly.
Oh, now," said Teddy, in some consternation, "that's
carrying the thing too far, isn't it?"
"Don't worry me with your beastly etiquette. I'm
just beginning to live. Don't remind me of anything
artificial. If only this air could be bottled! This much
alone is worth coming for. Oh, look! there goes a deer!"
" Jack-rabbit," said Teddy, without turning his head.
" Could I — might I drive ? " suggested Octavia, pant-
ing, with rose-tinted cheeks and the eye of an eager child.
" On one condition. Could I — might I smoke ? "
"Forever!" cried Octavia, taking the lines with solemn
joy. " How shall I know which way to drive ? "
"Keep her sou' by sou'east, and all sail set. You see
that black speck on the horizon under that lowermost
Gulf cloud ? That's a group of live-oaks and a land-
mark. Steer halfway between that and the little hill to
the left. I'll recite you the whole code of driving rules
for the Texas prairies: keep the reins from under the
horses' feet, and swear at 'em frequent."
"I'm too happy to swear, Ted. Ob, why do people
buy yachts or travel in palace-cars, when a buckboard
and a pair of plugs and a spring morning like this can
satisfy all desire ? "
" Now, I'll ask you," protested Teddy, who was futilely
striking match after match on the dashboard, "not to
call those denizens of the air plugs. They can kick out
a hundred miles between daylight and dark." At last
he succeeded in snatching a light for his cigar from the
flame held in the hollow of his hands.
"Room!" said Octavia, intensely. "That's what
produces the effect. I know now what I've wanted —
scope — range — room ! "
"Smoking-room," said Teddy, unsentimentally. "I
love to smoke in a buckboard. The wind blows the smoke
into you and out again. It saves exertion."
The two fell so naturally into their old-time goodfellow-
ship that it was only by degrees that a sense of the strange-
ness of the new relations between them came to be felt.
"Madama," said Teddy, wonderingly, "however did
you get it into your head to cut the crowd and come down
here? Is it a fad now among the upper classes to trot
off to sheep ranches instead of to Newport ? "
" I was broke, Teddy," said Octavia, sweetly, with her
interest centred upon steering safely between a Spanish
dagger plant and a clump of chaparral; "I haven't a
thing in the world but this ranch — not even any other
home to go to."
"Come, now," said Teddy, anxiously but incredu-
lously, "you don't mean it?"
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 299
" When my husband/' said Octavia, with a shy slurring
of the word, "died three months ago I thought I had a
reasonable amount of the world's goods. His lawyer
exploded that theory in a sixty-minute fully illustrated
lecture. I took to the sheep as a last resort. Do you
happen to know of any fashionable caprice among the
gilded youth of Manhattan that induces them to abandon
polo and club windows to become managers of sheep
ranches ? "
"It's easily explained in my case," responded Teddy,
promptly. "I had to go to work. I couldn't have earned
my board in New York, so I chummed a while with old
Sandford, one of the syndicate that owned the ranch before
Colonel Beaupree bought it, and got a place down here.
I wasn't manager at first. I jogged around on ponies and
studied the business in detail, until I got all the points in
my head. I saw where it was losing and what the reme-
dies were, and then Sandford put me in charge. I get a
hundred dollars a month, and I earn it."
"Poor Teddy!" said Octavia, with a smile.
"You needn't. I like it. I save half my wages, and
I'm as hard as a water plug. It beats polo."
u Will it furnish bread and tea and jam for another out-
cast from civilization ? "
"The spring shearing," said the manager, "just cleaned
up a deficit in last year's business. Wastefulness and
inattention have been the rule heretofore. The autumn
dip will leave a small profit over all expenses. Next
year there will be jam."
300 Whirligigs *
When, about four o'clock in the afternoon, the ponies
rounded a gentle, brush-covered hill, and then swooped,
like a double cream-coloured cyclone, upon the Rancho
* de las Sombras, Octavia gave a little cry of delight. A
lordly grove of magnificent live-oaks, cast an area of
grateful, cool shade, whence the ranch had drawn its
name, "de las Sombras" — of the shadows. The house,
of red brick, one story, ran low and long beneath the trees.
Through its middle, dividing its six rooms in half, extended
a broad, arched passageway, picturesque with flowering
cactus and hanging red earthern jars. A "gallery," low
and broad, encircled the building. Vines climbed about
it, and the adjacent ground was, for a space, covered with
transplanted grass and shrubs. A little lake, long and
narrow, glimmered in the sun at the rear. Further away
stood the shacks of the Mexican workers, the corrals,
wool sheds and shearing pens. To the right lay the loiv
hills, splattered with dark patches of chaparral; to the
left the unbounded green prairie blending against the blue
"It's a home, Teddy," said Octavia, breathlessly;
" that's what it is — it's a home."
"Not so bad for a sheep ranch," admitted Teddy, with
excusable pride. " I've Been tinkering on it at odd times."
A Mexican youth sprang from somewhere in the grass,
and took charge of the creams. The mistress and the
' manager entered the house.
"Here's Mrs. Maclntyre," said Teddy, as a placid,
Heat, elderly lady came out upon the gallery to meet
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 301
them. "Mrs. Mac, here's the boss. Very likely she
'will be wanting a hunk of bacon and a dish of beans after
Mrs. Maclntyre, the housekeeper, as much a fixture
on the place as the lake or the live-oaks, received the
imputation of the ranch's resources of refreshment with
mild indignation, and was about to give it utterance when
"Oh, Mrs. Maclntyre, don't apologize for Teddy.
Yes, I call him Teddy. So does every one whom he
hasn't duped into taking him seriously. You see, we
used to cut paper dolls and play jackstraws together ages
ago. No one minds what he says."
"No," said Teddy, "no one minds what he says, just
so he doesn't do it again."
Octavia cast one of those subtle, sidelong glances to-
ward him from beneath her lowered eyelids — ^a glance
that Teddy used to describe as an upper-cut. But there
was nothing in his ingenuous, weather-tanned face to
warrant a suspicion that he was making an allusion —
nothing. Beyond a doubt, thought Octavia, he had
"Mr. Westlake likes his fun," said Mrs. Maclntyre, as
she conducted Octavia to her rooms. "But," she added,
loyally, "people around here usually pay attention to
what he says when he talks in earnest. I don't know
what would have become of this place without him."
Two rooms at the east end of the house had been
arranged for the occupancy of the ranch's mistress. When
she entered them a alight dismay seized her at their bin
appearance and the scantiness of their furniture; but she
quickly reflected that the climate was a semi-tropical one,
and was moved to appreciation erf the well-conceived
efforts to conform to it. The sashes had already been
removed from the big windows, and white curtains wavd
in the Gulf breeze that streamed through the wide ja-
lousies. The bare floor was amply strewn with cool rags;
the chairs were inviting, deep, dreamy willows; the walls
were papered with a light, cheerful olive. One whole
side of her sitting room was covered with books on smooth,
unpainted pine shelves. She flew to these at once. Be-
fore her was a well-selected library. She caught glimpses
of titles of volumes of fiction and travel not yet seasoned
from the dampness of the press.
Presently, recollecting that she was now in a wilderness
given over to mutton, centipedes and privations, the
incongruity of these luxuries struck her, and, with intuitive
feminine suspicion, she began turning to the fly-leaves of
volume after volume. Upon each one was inscribed ir
fluent characters the name of Theodore Westlake, Jr.
Octavia, fatigued by her long journey, retired earlj
that night. Lying upon her white, cool bed, she rested
deliciously, but sleep coquetted long with her. She
listened to faint noises whose strangeness kept her faculties
6n the alert — the fractious yelping of the coyotes, the
ceaseless, low symphony of the wind, the distant booming
of the frogs about the lake, the lamentation of a concertina
in the Mexicans' quarters. There were many conflicting
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches SOS
feelings in her heart — thankfulness and rebellion, peace
and disquietude, loneliness and a sense of protecting care,
happiness and an old, haunting pain.
She did what any other woman would have done —
sought relief in a wholesome tide of unreasonable tears,
and her last words, murmured to herself before slumber,
capitulating, came softly to woo her, were, "He has
The manager of the Rancho de las Sombras was no
dilettante. He was a "hustler." He was generally up,
mounted, and away of mornings before the rest of the
household were awake, making the rounds of the flocks
and camps. This was the duty of the major-domo, a
stately old Mexican with a princely air and manner, but
Teddy seemed to have a great deal of confidence in his
own eyesight. Except in the busy seasons, he nearly
always returned to the ranch to breakfast at eight o'clock,
with Octavia and Mrs. Maclntyre, at the little table set
in the central hallway, bringing with him a tonic and
breezy cheerfulness full of the health and flavour of the
A few days after Octavia's arrival he made her get out
one of her riding skirts, and curtail it to a shortness
demanded by the chaparral brakes.
With some misgivings she donned this and the pair of
buckskin leggings he prescribed in addition, and, mounted
upon a dancing pony, rode with him to view her posses-
sions. He showed her everything — the flocks of ewes,
muttons and grazing lambs, the dipping vats, the shearing
pens, the uncouth merino rams in their little pasture, the
water-tanks prepared against the summer drought —
giving account of his stewardship with a boyish enthus-
siasm that never flagged.
Where was the old Teddy that she knew so well ? This
side of him was the same, and it was a side that pleased
her; but this was all she ever saw of him now. Where
was his sentimentality — those old, varying moods of
impetuous love-making, of fanciful, quixotic devotion, of
heart-breaking gloom, of alternating, absurd tenderness
and haughty dignity? His nature had been a sensitive
one, his temperament bordering closely on the artistic.
She knew that, besides being a follower of fashion and its
fads and sports, he had cultivated tastes of a finer nature.
He had written things, he had tampered with colours, he
was something of a student in certain branches of art,
and once she had been admitted to all his aspirations and
thoughts. But now — and she could not avoid the con-
clusion — Teddy had barricaded against her every side
of himself except one — the side that showed the manager
of the Rancho de las Sombras and a jolly chum who had
forgiven and forgotten. Queerly enough the words of
Mr. Bannister's description of her property came into
her mind — " all inclosed within a strong barbed-wire
"Teddy's fenced, too," said Octavia to herself.
It was not difficult for her to reason out the cause of
his fortifications. It had originated one night at the
Hammersmiths' ball. It occurred at a time soon after
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 305
she had decided to accept Colonel Beaupree and his
million, which was no more than her looks and the entree
she held to the inner circles were worth. Teddy had
proposed with all his impetuosity and fire, and she looked
him straight in the eyes, and said, coldly and finally:
''Never let me hear any such silly nonsense from you
again." " You won't," said Teddy, with a new expression
a/ound his mouth, and — now Teddy was inclosed
within a strong barbed-wire fence.
It was on this first ride of inspection that Teddy was
seized by the inspiration that suggested the name of
Mother Goose's heroine, and he at once bestowed it upon
Octavia. The idea, supported by both a similarity of
names and identity of occupations, seemed to strike him
as a peculiarly happy one, and he never tired of using it.
The Mexicans on the ranch also took up the name, adding
another syllable to accommodate their lingual incapacity
for the final " p," gravely referring to her as " La Madama
Bo-Peepy." Eventually it spread, and "Madame Bo-
Peep's ranch" was as often mentioned as the "Rancho
de las Sombras."
Came the long, hot season from May to September,
when work is scarce on the ranches. Octavia passed the
days in a kind of lotus-eater's dream. Books, hammocks,
correspondence with a few intimate friends, a renewed
interest in her old water-colour box and easel — these
disposed of the sultry hours of daylight. The evenings
were always sure to bring enjoyment. Best of all were
the rapturous horseback rides with Teddy, when the moon
gav6 light over the wind-swept leagues, chaperoned by
the wheeling night-hawk and the startled owl. Often the
Mexicans would come up from their shacks with their
guitars and sing the weirdest of heart-breaking songs.
There were long, cosy chats on the breezy gallery, and an
interminable warfare of wits between Teddy and Mrs.
Maclntyre, whose abundant Scotch shrewdness often
more than overmatched the lighter humour in whieh she
And the nights came, one after another, and were filed
away by weeks and months — nights soft and languorous
and fragrant, that should have driven Strephon to Chloe
over wires however barbed, that might have drawn Cupid
himself to hunt, lasso in hand, among those amorous
pastures — but Teddy kept his fences up.
One July night Madame Bo-Peep and her ranch man-
ager were sitting on the east gallery. Teddy had been
exhausting the science of prognostication as to the proba-
bilities of a price of twenty-four cents for the autumn clip,
and had then subsided into an anaesthetic cloud of Havana
smoke. Only as incompetent a judge as a woman would
have failed to note long ago that at least a third erf his
salary must have gone up in the fumes of those imported
"Teddy," said Octavia, suddenly, and rather sharply,
"what are you working down here on a ranch for?*'
"One hundred per," said Teddy, glibly, "and found."
"I've a good mind to discharge you."
"Can't do it," said Teddy, with a grin.
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 307
"Why not?" demanded Octavia, with argumentative
" Under contract. Terms of sale respect all unexpired
contracts. Mine runs tintil 12 p. m., December thirty-first.
You might get up at midnight on that date and fire me.
If you try it sooner I'll be in a position to bring legal
Octavia seemed to be considering the prospects of
"But," continued Teddy cheerfully, "I've been think-
ing of resigning anyway."
Octavia's rocking-chair ceased its motion. There were
centipedes in this country, she felt sure; and Indians;
and vast, lonely, desolate, empty wastes; all within strong
barbed-wire fence. There was a Van Dresser pride, but
there was also a Van Dresser heart. She must know for
certain whether or not he had forgotten.
"Ah, well, Teddy," she said, with a fine assumption
•f polite interest, "it's lonely down here; you're longing
to get back to the old life — to polo and lobsters and
theatres and balls."
Never cared much for balls," said Teddy virtuously.
You're getting old, Teddy. Your memory is failing.
Nobody ever knew you to miss a dance, unless it occurred
on the same night with another one which you attended.
And you showed such shocking bad taste, too, in dancing
too often with the same partner. Let me see, what was
that Forbes girl's name — the one with wall eyes —
MabeL wasn't it?"
"No; Adele. Mabel was the one with the bony
elbows. That wasn't wall in Adele's eyes. It was soul
We used to talk sonnets together, and Verlaine. Just
then I was trying to run a pipe from the Pierian spring."
" You were on the floor with her," said Octavia, undc-
flected, "five times at the Hammersmiths*."
Hammersmiths' what ? " questioned Teddy, vacuously,
Ball — ball," said Octavia, viciously. " What were
we talking of ?
Eyes, I thought," said Teddy, after some reflection;
" r>an — oaj
alking of ? "
"Those Hammersmiths," went on Octavia, in her
sweetest society prattle, after subduing an intense desire
to yank a handful of sunburnt, sandy hair from the head
lying back contentedly against the canvas of the steamer
chair, " had too much money. Mines, wasn't it ? It was
something that paid something to the ton. You couldn't
get a glass of plain water in their house. Everything at
that ball was dreadfully overdone."
It was," said Teddy.
Such a crowd there was!" Octavia continued, con-
scious that she was talking the rapid drivel of a school-
girl describing her first dance. "The balconies were as
warm as the rooms. I — lost — something at that ball."
The last sentence was uttered in a tone calculated to
remove the barbs from miles of wire.
So did I," confessed Teddy, in a lower voice.
A glove," said Octavia, falling back as the enemv
approached her ditches.
Madame Bo-Peep, of. the Ranches 309
"Caste," said Teddy, halting his firing line without
loss. "I hobnobbed, half the evening with one of
Hammersmith's miners, a fellow who kept his hands in
his pockets, and talked like an archangel about reduction
plants and drifts and levels and sluice-boxes."
"A pearl-gray glove, nearly new," sighed Octavia,
"A bang-up chap, that McArdle," maintained Teddy
approvingly. "A man who hated olives and elevators;
a man who handled mountains as croquettes, and built
tunnels in the air; a man who never uttered a word
of silly nonsense in his life. Did you sign those lease-
renewal applications yet, madama? They've got to be
on file in the land office by the thirty-first."
Teddy turned his head lazily. Octavia's chair was
A certain centipede, crawling along the lines marked
out by fate, expounded the situation. It was early one
morning while Octavia and Mrs. Maclntyre were trim-
ming the honeysuckle on the west gallery. Teddy had
risen and departed hastily before daylight in response
to word that a flock of ewes had been scattered from their
bedding ground during the night by a thunder-storm.
The centipede, driven by destiny, showed himself on
the floor of the gallery, and then, the screeches of the two
women giving him his cue, he scuttled with all his yellow
legs through the open door into the furthermost west
room, which was Teddy's. Arming themselves with
domestic utensils selected with regard to their length,
Octavia and Mrs. Maclntyre, with much clutching of
skirts and skirmishing for the position of rear guard in
the attacking force, followed.
Once outside, the centipede seemed to have disappeared^
and his prospective murderers began a thorough but
cautious search for their victim.
Even in the midst of such a dangerous and absorbing
adventure Octavia was conscious of an awed curiosity
on finding herself in Teddy's sanctum. In that room
he sat alone, silently communing with those secret thoughts
that he now shared with no one, dreamed there whatever
dreams he now called on no one to interpret.
It was the room of a Spartan or a soldier. In one
corner stood a wide, canvas-covered cot; in another, a
small bookcase; in another, a grim stand of Winchesters
and shotguns. An immense table, strewn with letters,
papers and documents and surmounted by a set of pigeon-
holes, occupied one side.
' The centipede showed genius in concealing himself
in such bare quarters. Mrs. Maclntyre was poking a
broom-handle behind the bookcase. Octavia approached
Teddy's cot. The room was just as the manager had left
it in his hurry. The Mexican maid had not yet given it
her attention. There was his big pillow with the imprint
of his head still in the centre. She thought the horrid
beast might have climbed the cot and hidden itself to bite
Teddy. Centipedes were thus cruel and vindictive
Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches 811
She cautiously overturned the pillow, and then parted
her lips to give the signal for reinforcements at sight of a
long, slender, dark object lying there. But, repressing
it in time, she caught up a glove, a pearl-gray glover
flattened — it might be conceived - by many, many
months of nightly pressure beneath the pillow of the man
who had forgotten the Hammersmiths 9 ball. Teddy
must have left so hurriedly that morning that he had, for
once, forgotten to transfer it to its resting-place by day
Even managers, who are notoriously wily and cunning,
are sometimes caught up with.
Octavia slid the gray glove into the bosom of her sum-
mery morning gown. It was hers. Men who put them-
selves within a strong barbed-wire fence, and remember
Hammersmith balls only by the talk of miners about sluice-
boxes, should not be allowed to possess such articles.
After all, what a paradise this prairie country was'
How it blossomed like the rose when you found things
that were thought to be lost! How delicious was that
morning breeze coming in the windows, fresh and sweet
With the breath of the yellow ratama blooms! Might one
not stand, for a minute, with shining, far-gazing eyes, and
dream that mistakes might be corrected ?
Why was Mrs. Maclntyre poking about so absurdl;
with a broom?
" I've found it," said Mrs. Maclntyre, banging the door.
"Here it is."
" Did you lose something ? " asked Octavia, with sweetly
"The little devil!" said Mrs. Maclntyre, driven to
violence. "Ye've no forgotten him alretty?"
Between them they slew the centipede. Thus was he
tewarded for his agency toward the recovery of things
lost at the Hammersmiths' ball*
it seems that Teddy, in due course, remembered the
glove, and when he returned to the house at sunset made
a secret but exhaustive search for it. Not until evening,
upon the moonlit eastern gallery, did he find it. It was
upon the hand that he had thought lost to him forever,
ana so he was moved to repeat certain nonsense that he
had been commanded never, never to utter again. Teddy's
*ences were down.
This time there was no ambition to stand in the way,
and the wooing was as natural and successful as should
be between ardent shepherd and gentle shepherdess.
The prairies changed to a garden. The Rancho de las
Sombras became the Ranch of Light.
A few days later Octavia received a letter from Mr.
Bannister, in reply to one she had written to him asking
some questions about her business. A portion of the
letter ran as follows:
" I am at a loss to account for your references to the
sheep ranch. Two months after your departure to take
up your residence upon it, it was discovered that Colonel
Beaupree's title was worthless. A deed came to light
showing that he disposed of the property before his death.
The matter was reported to your manager, Mr. Westlake,
who at once repurchased the property. It is entirely
Madame Bo-Peep 9 of the Ranches 318
beyond my powers of conjecture to imagine how you have
remained in ignorance of this fact. I beg you that will
at once confer with that gentleman, who will, at least,
corroborate my statement."
Octavia sought Teddy, with battle in her eye.
" What are you working on this ranch for ? " she asked
"One hundred — " he began to repeat, but saw in hei
face that she knew. She held Mr. Bannister's letter ir
her hand. He knew that the game was up.
" It's my ranch,'* said Teddy, like a schoolboy detected
in evil. "It's a mighty poor manager that isn't able to
absorb the boss's business if you give him time."
" Why were you working down here ? " pursued Octavia,
still struggling after the key to the riddle of Teddy.
"To tell the truth, 'Tave," said Teddy, with quiet
candour, " it wasn't for the salary. That about kept me
in cigars and sunburn lotions. I was sent south by my
doctor. 'Twas that right lung that was going to the bad
on account of over-exercise and strain at polo and gym-
nastics. I needed climate and ozone and rest and things
of that sort."
In an instant Octavia was close against the vicinity
of the affected organ. Mr. Bannister's letter fluttered
to the floor.
"It's — it's well now, isn't it, Teddy?"
"Sound as a mesquite chunk. I deceived you in one
thing. I paid fifty thousand for your ranch as soon as
I found you had no title* I had just about that much
income accumulated at my banker's while I've been I
herding sheep down here, so it was almost like picking the
thing up on a bargain-counter for a penny. There's
another little surplus of unearned increment piling up
there, 'Tave. I've been thinking of a wedding trip in a
yacht with white ribbons tied to the mast, through the
Mediterranean, and then up among the Hebrides and
down Norway to the Zuyder Zee."
"And I was thinking," said Octavia, softly, "of a
wedding gallop with my manager among the flocks of
sheep and bacK to a wedding breakfast with Mrs. Mac-
Intyre on the gallery, with, maybe, a sprig of orange
blossom fastened to the red jar above the table."
Teddy laughed, and began to chant:
"Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And doesn't know where to find 'em.
Let 'em alone, and they'll come home^
Octavia drew his head down, and whispered in his
But that is one of the tales they brought behind them.
HI COUNTRY UWR PRESS, GARDEN CITY N. Y.